Wednesday, May 12, 2010

US Faces Terror Threat

The United States has again faced terrorist bomb threat. On 1 May, the US police found explosives including gasoline, propane and other bomb making accessories such as wires and alarm clock at the back seat of a car parked within the New York Times Square. Since the police suspected that there might be more explosive devices planted within the vicinity, many streets in the Manhattan districts were also sealed off for security check.

Attempted Car Bomb
Of note is that one day after the attempted car bomb explosion in New York, the Taliban militants in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack. They said the planned attack was in retaliation for the killing of its leaders by the US troops. However, the New York police chief said there was no evidence to indicate that the attempted car bomb was linked to the Taliban militants in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the US Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano also said the attempted bomb attack was only a single isolated incident. Therefore, the US authorities said it would treat this attempted bomb explosion in New York as a one-time attempted terrorist attack and the case would be processed as 'potential' terrorist attack.

It is obvious that the US authorities tried to separate the New York Times Square's attempted bomb attack from external terrorist threat and thus claimed that it was an isolated incident. This is because if the US authorities openly said that the attempted bomb explosion was connected with the Taliban, then this would be the first time a foreign terrorist group has penetrated the US homeland. The shocking impact of such news to the US society could be tremendously alarming. However, if this attempted terrorist attack is indeed a single isolated case done by the arrested suspect, it will not be a small matter to the United States either. It could mean that the terrorist threat has really become localized with collaboration coming from within the US society. This type of terrorist threat is even more dangerous and more serious than if it were staged by some outside terrorist force.

Post 9/11 Scenario
In fact, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, New York has suffered several attempted terrorist attacks, with targets including the metro subway, church, Kennedy International Airport and the Brooklyn Bridge, among others.

The Western media generally believed that the mastermind behind the Times Square attempted bomb explosion could be external terrorists or it could also be done by some US citizens who have joined some external terrorist organizations or that it could be done by some extremists within the United States.

However, later on, the news has confirmed that the suspect who attempted to stage bomb explosion has been arrested and he a US citizen of Pakistani origin. His name is Faisal Shahzad. He has returned to the United States from Pakistan. On 3 May midnight, Faisal Shahzad was arrested at the New York Kennedy International Airport. He has also confessed that he did receive military training in Pakistan. Faisal Shahzad has now been charged in the US court with a number of offences including the attempted terrorist bombings at Times Square in New York on 1May.

It is obvious that the threat that the US homeland might face terrorist bomb explosions is becoming more and more serious as day goes by. Such bomb explosion threat has become localized. Moreover, this type of terrorist bomb explosions has involved the collaboration between US citizens and foreign terrorist organizations and groups. The severity of the impact of this kind of terrorist bomb explosions is beyond one's imagination. Although the US government has successfully cracked down many cases of attempted terrorist bombings and attacks, but the potential and the volume of such terrorist attacks generated from within the society are difficult to predict. Moreover, all terrorist attacks are dispersed, clandestine with forward planning carried out in the dark. Terrorists will launch attack when the society is least prepared for it. To the government the threat of terrorist attack seems to be everywhere and whenever possible. It is not easy for the government to t to detect planned terrorist attacks all the time. In other words, the society is forever being placed in a passive position trying not to be beaten by terrorists.

Where is the Problem?
As the Chinese saying goes: ''It is easy for someone to block a gun from the front; it is hard for someone to prevent a stab from behind.' Although the United States has the world's most advanced weapons, such weapons cannot be used effectively to tackle terrorists. It reflects the reality that the US counter-terrorism strategy of reciprocal violence with violence can no longer be applied today.

The United cannot try to use force to eliminate terrorists. Otherwise, the more the United States wants to counter terrorism, the more terrorists will stage attacks on the United States. This was what happened to the Iraq War and Afghanistan War staged by the United States. Similar consequence will also happen to the US homeland if the US Government does not change its counter terrorism policy. Therefore, while the United States is still using military force to counter terrorism overseas, the United States should also try to resolve terrorist threat in the US society from political, economical and societal perspectives. For example, the US Government must try to find out why the arrested terrorist suspect would want to use external terrorist force to oppose the US Government.

All questions need to be studied in the US counter terrorism strategy in order for the US Government to find lasting solution to end the terrorism threat in the country. If the US Government can win the hearts and support of all the American people, through cooperation between the government and the people, the United States can then ultimately eliminate the threat of terrorism in the US homeland. This is the simple logic of the so called 'If you win the hearts of the people, you win the whole kingdom.'

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