Just months after 9/11, videotapes were confiscated in Afghanistan showing al-Qaeda terrorists training to takeover a school. Six months later, spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith boldly declared al-Qaeda's "right" to kill 2 million American children. In 2004, an Iraqi national with known terrorist connections was caught with a computer disk containing information detailing Department of Education crisis planning for U.S school districts.
Last year, two Saudi men - one wearing a black trench coat despite the Florida heat -- terrified a busload of Tampa schoolchildren by boarding a school bus and remaining for the entire ride to school, all the while laughing and speaking Arabic.
And just this month, the FBI and Homeland Security Department issued a "routine advisory" bulletin to state and local officials warning that foreign members of "extremist groups" either already possess or are attempting to procure licenses to drive school buses. Additionally, according to the AP:
"[The bulletin] noted ‘recent suspicious activity' by foreigners who either drive school buses or are licensed to drive them."
The dispatch went on to say that some of these same unnamed foreigners have been able to buy school buses right here in the homeland.
Yet the news of such a potentially immediate threat to our children was carefully spoon-fed to us on a Friday afternoon -- not a good indication of transparency -- with a curious lack of concern as a chaser.
A Tepid Warning of an Incendiary Threat
While the report did spark some media fire the weekend it was announced, now -- not two weeks later -- the embers are all but cold. As parents, we are now forced to discover why. Surely, there's something awry in the cloudy ping-pong game of facts being played by FBI and DHS spokespeople, who have absurdly dismissed any possible terrorist linkage.
For starters, officials have shown neither the fortitude nor the decency to properly identify the suspects authorities -- and diligent parents -- should be on the lookout for. Moreover, after stating that law enforcement agencies should "watch out for kids' safety," they then claim that "parents and children have nothing to fear." Really?
So, just what is the extent of the threat and who are these unnamed, undescribed "extremist groups?" We've been down this road before. Refusing to specify race or ethnic background is probably a clear sign that we're not talking about some backwoods militia. And, while there are whispers of an al-Qaeda connection, no officials have yet been willing to go on record with any affirmation.
If they were protecting sources or other secrets vital to their investigation, why issue such an impotent warning at all?
No, it seems more likely that the PC police are now protecting the feelings of Arab male Wahabbist Islamic extremists - or themselves from accusations of profiling - even at the risk of our children's wellbeing.
Of course, anyone doing so would be culpable for delivering our most vulnerable of citizens to our most ruthless of enemies, literally inviting their all-too-well-known barbaric extortion methods.
Terrorism, of course, promotes its goal by its very name. And, what better way to terrorize and demoralize than to target our children -- to exploit the inborn drive of all living creatures to protect their young in order to inflict maximum emotional impact on our country? And what easier a soft target than a bus or classroom filled with many highly visible yet defenseless victims and few, if any, in a position to actually protect them? Plus -- can anyone imagine a more horrific hostage crisis?
The Beslan Horror - An Omen All But Ignored
Sadly, envisioning such a nightmare doesn't require a vivid imagination, as images are readily available by simply googling the word "Beslan." Indeed, the Beslan school massacre remains, to date, modern history's most horrendous example of a cowardly assault on school children. And we ignore its lessons at the peril of our young.
On the first day of school in September of 2004 in the Russian town of Beslan, approximately 100 pro-Chechan Islamic terrorists - many embedded as school workers -- seized over 1,200 children and adults in School Number One. While the details of the siege are quite disturbing, they must be absorbed in order to properly understand the threat before us.
Men, women, and children (including babies) were herded into an unventilated gym, where temperatures rose to 115 degrees. Hostages were given no food or water and women (and some children) were repeatedly raped. Adult and stronger male students were forced to help fortify the building; then shot without mercy; their bodies tossed out a second story window into the courtyard.
Hostiles warned Russian Security Forces that if stormed, they would detonate the building and that for every one in their ranks killed, 50 hostages would be butchered. Armed guards stood amongst prisoners on "deadman switches" which were wired to explosives. Others wore "black widow" suicide vests, which could be triggered by remote control at the whim of their sadistic leaders. Doorways and stairways were booby-trapped and children were forced to sit on windowsills as human shields from snipers.
Unspeakable sadism and horror continued for three long days, and can be graphically experienced by those wishing to do so by a 9 minute slideshow put together by officialmastersofchaos.com (Video). Warning - this is pretty ghastly stuff. While numbers vary with their source, across the bloody 3-day standoff some 700 people were wounded and 338 killed, including 172 children. The memories of the rows of little body bags stretched out in a makeshift morgue are destined to haunt the ages. The murderers, many of whom are still at large, and their methods must also share a special place in our memories - such that similar inhumanity to children is never permitted to occur here.
Children of a Jihadist's God - Acknowledging the Terrorist Mindset
We live in a crazy world in which more than a few Palestinian parents proclaim pride in the "martyrdom" of their own children and promote a culture in which suicide bombers are revered as teen idols. To them, youngsters are seen potentially as both weapons and high-visibility targets. And, while most Islamic scholars can cite passage after passage declaring the killing of children as an abomination, to the extremists, children are obviously a disposable commodity. They've been strapping explosive belts onto their brainwashed kids and rejoicing in the shrapnel and guts of their own bloodline painted onto charred walls for decades.
And, as any IDF soldier will readily tell you, "brave" Palestinian terrorists routinely take innocent children of their own people as human shields (video). But last week, jihadist cowardice sank to a new low when Iraqi terrorists used the presumed innocence of two young children to breach a military security checkpoint in Baghdad. Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, told reporters that the vehicle was waved through because two children were visible in the back seat:
"Children in the back seat lowered suspicion, (so) we let it move through, they parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back. The brutality and ruthless nature of this enemy hasn't changed."
I must take issue with the Major's final assessment. This new ploy does, indeed, represent a change for these barefoot barbarians in that they've taken a cue from their murderous brethren in Palestine, sacrificing innocent children to further their loathsome cause. The significance of this malignant mindset must never be trivialized.
It's up to us to see to it that the kids ARE alright
Of all the "soft" targets the United States has to offer these madmen, it's hard to find any more vulnerable than a school.
And, as al-Qaeda has a history of plotting spectacular and awe-inspiring attacks, you'd be equally challenged to find a more inviting one.
Plus, as explained by Joliet, IL Police Sgt. Dwayne Killian, an instructor in school safety drills, a few successful attacks on schools might be seen as a method to topple the U.S. economy:
"To protect their children from possible terrorist attacks, parents would pull them out of school and day-care centers and stay home from work to be with them -- and the economy collapses."
Abu Gheith's 2002 warning; school plans in the hands of terrorists; Saudi's terrorizing American schoolchildren on buses; 172 Russian school-kids slaughtered; "extremists" seeking to get behind the wheels of bus-loads of our children; jihadists sacrificing children to kill a few Americans; now a new story of a nutjob in Manilla taking 30 kids hostage on a bus - ENOUGH!
It's become glaringly obvious that -- contrary to the words of both the FBI and the famous song by The Who - our kids are not alright. And it's high time that we parents see to it that appropriate and resolute action is taken to change that condition without delay.
Granted, fortifying our schools against such incursions is a daunting task. Nevertheless, the carefree days of obliviously sending the tots off in the morning with blind faith in their safekeeping are over. And, while authorities claim to be working on "hardening" schools as targets, it's hard to discount this amazingly lame shot at reassurance from the FBI/HMS memo:
"Most attempts by foreign nationals in the United States to acquire school bus licenses to drive them are legitimate."
Comforting? Try reprehensibly bungling. Do we need any more confirmation that there are "foreign nationals" out there bent on our destruction? That the privilege to drive hundreds of our precious and beloved children every day should be reserved for U.S citizens only and then only after extensive background checks? That these checks should not be less stringent (as is often the case) than those of the schools' janitors or lunch ladies, which, in this age of Columbine, run-away sexual abuse of children and the nefarious plots discussed herein, are themselves often recklessly relaxed?
In the unlikely event that you need further convincing that it's time to become actively involved in your school district's safety plans, here's a stark reminder of terror's reach that Sgt. Killian routinely gives educators:
"Osama bin Laden promised that the terrorist attack on a Russian school in 2004 will happen many times over in the United States."
Dare we leave these dots unconnected any longer?
Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.