Terrorism 20 years after 9/11: Local responders are vital as Federal Government flounders

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As the nation neared the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Americans were forced to watch, in real time, the failure of the U.S. Government to defeat the threat posed by terrorists in the very place where the 9/11 plot originated.

The U.S. Government has just enabled the Taliban with tens of billions dollars of modern weapons and cash, handed over lists of American citizens and allies in the country, and is now interfering with private efforts to rescue those still trapped. Instead of evacuating friends and vetted allies, the Biden administration has launched a massive refugee resettlement effort of unvetted Afghans, where hundreds of potential threats have already been detected.

The Taliban has said they intend to impose shariah, Islamic law, with all of its medieval strictures of violence against non-believers, oppression, and slavery in Afghanistan again, while the U.S. government, unable to understand the Taliban’s commitment to that doctrine, fecklessly requests the Taliban enact an “inclusive government.” It is the same adherence to shariah which compels the Taliban to support jihad everywhere across the globe and guarantees they will continue to be patrons and defenders of Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

Meanwhile, exactly 20 years after 9/11, the FBI’s website features a series of “Terrorism News” articles which suggest their focus is not jihad or the shariah that requires it. Four articles focus on the events that took place on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol and only two articles focus on 9/11.

In an article titled “Remembering 9/11: Attacks 20 Years Ago Shaped Today’s FBI” the author writes:

“The morning of September 11, 2001 remains one of the most pivotal points in American history—and for the FBI. The ensuing investigation was the largest in the history of the Bureau. The attacks led to far-reaching changes in the organization as it elevated terrorism to the gravest threat against the U.S.”

But, after listing the staggering statistics associated with the 9/11 attacks and its victims, the article makes it clear that jihadist terrorism is no longer the focus of the self-described “intelligence-based national security and law enforcement organization,”

“But the threat picture has changed. Racially or ethnically motivated extremism and anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism are the top domestic terrorism threats today. These actors often plan their attacks alone or in small cells—presenting an even greater challenge to law enforcement as they seek to prevent the next act of violence.”

Prior to 9/11, federal law enforcement believed ecoterrorism was the most significant terror threat the country faced.

They were wrong.

The federal government’s unwillingness to properly diagnose the threat or counter it means that state and local law enforcement and emergency responders will be even more critical to protecting Americans from jihad terrorism at home.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 claimed the lives of over 400 first responders and more than 60 law enforcement officers. When the federal national security agencies fail to do what is necessary to respond to jihadist terrorism, it falls to local and state agencies to pick up the pieces.

Meanwhile, the first responders who experienced 9/11 are still haunted by the events of that day.

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS), “The responders who were there that day, say that the sound of those bodies crashing to the ground will haunt them for the rest of their lives.” After the collapse of the twin towers the most prominent sound was the piercing sound of hundreds of PASS alarms – an audible device that signals that a firefighter is no longer moving.  “It seemed like a terrible movie,” recalled FDNY Medical Director Glenn Asaeda, MD. “People just disappeared. I knew that they were gone, but it’s almost like, OK, everybody, come on out now.”

Throughout the ensuing years, the Feds were willfully blind to the nexus between terrorism and shariah, even to the point of allowing high-profile Muslim leaders with ties to terrorism to weigh in on terror policy.

On September 17, 2001, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) leader Nihad Awad stood behind President Bush for a photo op and speech at the Islamic Center of Washington. In 2008 the FBI was forced to cut off all contact with CAIR because evidence at a federal trial showed the group was a front  for the terrorist organization Hamas. Despite ample warnings by non-government national security experts, the federal government would again and again reach out to Islamist lobbies like CAIR and ignore shariah doctrine, with disastrous results.

On November 5, 2009, two civilian police sergeants responded to an active shooter attack on Fort Hood perpetrated by U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Mark Todd and his partner Kimberly Munley were responsible for confronting Hasan. “As soon as we got there, it was game on, and then that’s when it escalated, and we did what we had to do,” he told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper.”

Hasan murdered 13 people and wounded 37. One of his 13 victims, and the first of the “first responders” to the rampage was Michael Grant Cahill, a 62-year old civilian physician assistant, who heroically tried to charge Hasan and was killed in the process.

Despite troves of evidence of his intent to wage jihad because of his personal commitment to shariah, including a power point presentation Hasan himself had given to military counterparts, the U.S. Government falsely characterized the attack as “workplace violence.” It was later revealed that the FBI had known about a series of email conversations Hasan had with Al Qaeda in Yemen leader Anwar Awlaki prior to the attack. They ignored the information however, despite the fact that Hasan discussed the legitimacy of suicide bombing operations under shariah.

Hasan recently wrote a letter to the Taliban in Afghanistan in congratulations for their victory.  It read:

All-Praises be to All-Mighty Allah! Congratulations on your victory over those who hate for the Laws of All-Mighty God to be supreme on the land.  I pray to Allah that He helps you implement Shariah Law fully, correctly, and fairly. We must learn from the nations of the past and not let our wretchedness overcome us thus earning His (God’s) wrath.

On July 16, 2015, local law enforcement and first responders in Chattanooga, Tennessee were called to the pursuit of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez as he conducted an attack against two sites hosting  U.S. military personnel, eventually killing four U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy Sailor and wounding many others.

Dennis Pedigo, a police officer responding to the call, was himself wounded before Abdulazeez was stopped.  “There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about the families and everything that transpired,” said Officer Pedigo in an interview a year after the attack.

A month after the attack, then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter joined then Vice President Joe Biden at a memorial for the fallen servicemembers, declaring that, “[T]he meaning of their killing is yet unclear, what combination of disturbed mind, violent extremism, and hateful ideology was at work, we don’t know. Perhaps it will never be fully known, let alone fathomable, by all who have the decency and conscience to value their fellow human beings.”

In November, then FBI Director James B. Comey said, “We’re still trying to make sure we understand Abdulazeez, his motivations and associations, in a really good way. Sometimes the way we investigate requires us to keep information secret. That’s a good thing. We don’t want to smear people,” he explained to reporters at a visit to the FBI’s Nashville Field Office.

FBI could have looked no further than Abdulazeez’s own website for clues about his motives. “Take your study guide, the Quran and Sunnah” he wrote, referencing the two authoritative sources that form the foundation for shariah law. Abdulazeez’s own father had previously been investigated by the FBI for donating to charities linked to Palestinian terrorism, and the mosque his family attended had links to U.S groups tied to Hamas financing by federal investigators.

Also, just days after the attack, mainstream media sources reported that Abdulazeez sent a text to a friend the night prior to the attack,“ linking to a passage of Islamic text – Hadith 38 – containing the verse: “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I will indeed declare war against him.” And a week after the attack, the New York Times reported that “Abdulazeez reportedly viewed material related to radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as other militants.”

Yet it took until December 16, 2015 for FBI Director Comey to concede that “there is no doubt that [Abdulazeez] was inspired, motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda,” but that “it was difficult to determine” which specific terrorist group(s) “inspired” him.

On December 2, 2015, a husband-and-wife team of jihadists conducted a mass shooting and attempted bombing at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

The response by local law enforcement and emergency response professionals was swift and effective and was rightfully praised by both the Department of Justice. The 162-page report by the office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) analyzed the police response to the jihadi attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others.

“Their actions that day saved lives,” the report stated. “Many of the decisions made by organizational leaders and steps taken by responders to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the incident can set an example for other organizations as they plan to protect their communities against a similar type of attack,” it said.  The U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, Eileen M. Decker, said in a written statement “[I]n the face of this unfathomable suffering, the law enforcement personnel and citizens who put themselves in harm’s way to help others exemplifies the very best that our country has to offer.”

It only took two days for the FBI to decide to investigate the attack as an “act of terrorism,” since it was well known that the female jihadist – Tashfeen Malik – made a Facebook post in support of the Islamic State immediately prior to helping her husband – Syed Rizwan Farook – execute his co-workers. On December 4th, Director James Comey spoke about the investigation and told reporters at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., “if you see something that doesn’t make sense, you say something to somebody.” He said, “let us do the work that you pay us to do, which is to investigate and fight terrorism while you live the lives that are so wonderful in this great country of ours.”

In fact, there was someone who did “see something” and “say something” years earlier that could have prevented the San Bernadino tragedy.

Philip Haney, a founding member of Department of Homeland Security, spent years creating a DHS database that identified more than 300 suspected terrorists and flagged the mosque attended by the two killers. In media interviews he explained that his investigation and database could have flagged the killers years before and helped thwart the jihad attack. Yet it was the federal government that closed his investigation and destroyed his database in 2012 and federal civil rights officials that falsely accused him of “unfairly targeting Muslims,” investigated him, and stripped him of his clearance. Meanwhile, the names of hundreds of suspected terrorists were wiped clean from DHS databases.

After the June 12, 2016 jihad attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida, Haney was again interviewed by Fox’s Sean Hannity. Haney explained that the Fort Pierce mosque frequented by the jihadi perpetrator -Omar Mateen – was part of the same Tablighi Jamaat network linked to the San Bernadino attackers. [It was also the same mosque attended by the first American-born suicide bomber]

Hannity’s interview also exposed the lengths to the Obama Administration went to avoid calling the Pulse nightclub attack an act of “radical Islamic terrorism.” This avoidance trickled down to the Department of Justice and FBI who initially released a censored transcript of Omar Matteen’s 911 call which deliberately excised Mateen’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State.

While senior members of the Federal Government were busy trying to find the most politically correct methods of discussing the jihadist attack, local law enforcement, first responders, and medical professionals were still working tirelessly to save lives and reeling from the carnage they witnessed.

The attack claimed the lives of 49 people and wounded 53 more and those who responded bear the invisible wounds associated with this trauma. In the months and years following the jihad attack, numerous first responders have sought help to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including 26 that underwent treatment at the University of Central Florida’s Restores clinic, which was originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense for post-9/11 combat veterans.  Many of these courageous local civil servants are scarred for life. “I never saw myself in this position,” said Orlando Police officer Gerry Realin. “I’ve never been the same since, and I can’t go back.”

Overall, the Federal Government’s two-decade response to 9/11 has made three things clear:

While there are still many committed federal law enforcement agents and military and intelligence personnel putting their lives on the line every day to investigate terrorist networks and combat jihadists worldwide, America will continue to lose the overall fight so long as the federal government refuses to know the enemy.

Gone are the days when America could just send its warfighters abroad to fight terrorism. The nation now depends on local law enforcement to respond to attacks, even against unarmed military personnel, here at home.

Ultimately, until – and even after – the federal government makes a major course correction, if Americans want to be safeguarded against the threat from terrorism, citizens themselves – and especially their local law enforcement and first responders – will need to be more engaged in the struggle against terrorism.  They can begin with education and investigation into the shariah doctrine and jihadist networks that propagate it.

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