Magazine article Insight on the News

Protecting America against Terrorism - Constitutionally

Magazine article Insight on the News

Protecting America against Terrorism - Constitutionally

Article excerpt

The bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993 represented the FBI's worst fear, that major acts of terrorism spawned by foreign nations, groups or causes would be initiated within the United States. American interests and citizens have long been principal targets of terrorists overseas but, with rare exception, U.S. territory has been free of international terrorism.

Now, however, there is substantial reason to believe that a radical Islamic fundamentalist infrastructure has been established in the United States. Although they represent only a tiny fraction of Muslims in America, the radical fundamentalists support organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which are involved directly in terrorism and violently oppose the Israeli-PLO peace initiative. These organizations are aided and supported by Iran, including its diplomatic establishment and intelligence services, which makes them even more dangerous.

In a documentary titled Jihad in America, broadcast on public television Nov. 21, investigative journalist Steve Emerson revealed the existence of numerous radical fundamentalist organizations in the United States and their direct support of extremist groups in the Middle East through fund-raising; paramilitary and firearms training; and production of hate-filled video and print material vilifying Israel, America and moderate Muslims.

The most disturbing aspect of radical fundamentalists' activities in America is their use of our constitutional rights to protect their actions. This is nothing new -- we have previously experienced terrorism committed by those who claim to be Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Muslims -- but those who commit acts of terrorism in the name of God deny the humanity of their victims and are willing to inflict mass casualties upon the innocent.

If the FBI and other law enforcement agencies had been aware of the real nature of the group that carried out the World Trade Center bombing, there is little question that this horrific incident could have been prevented. However, certain restrictions and perceived limitations prevented these agencies from pursuing intelligence that would have revealed the intent of this extremist group. Terrorists must never be allowed to goad us into diluting our constitutionally guaranteed rights, for these rights define our nation and separate us from the extremists' hateful philosophies; nevertheless, we cannot be naive concerning the true intent of extremists in our midst, irrespective of their race, ethnic group, religion or political philosophy. …

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