September 25, 2007
Al Qaeda Targets Our Schoolchildren
While Democrats prepare witless campaign slogans blaming Republicans for millions of children not protected by health insurance, al Qaeda's blatant threat to exterminate 2 million American kids remains unheeded. And it will likely continue to be, notwithstanding mounting evidence that there exists no peril on Earth our young need greater protection from today than merciless jihadist monsters.
Not lack of a national insurance plan. Not global warming. Not racial or cultural disparities. Not even the Patriot Act, any of its overplayed incursions into individual liberties, or any of the other countless silly and diaphanous liberal causes célèbres, but rather that which would abruptly and savagely end their innocent short lives.
Nearly 6 months have passed since I first challenged the inexcusable refusal by DHS and FBI authorities to publicly connect the obviously connectable dots representing an unnerving number of alarming events -- particularly in the wake of the Beslan school massacre. These include:
- Videotapes confiscated in Afghanistan showing al-Qaeda terrorists training to takeover a school [newly available Video]
- Spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith‘s declaration of al-Qaeda's "right" to kill 2 million American children
- An Iraqi national with known terrorist connections caught with a computer disk containing information detailing Department of Education crisis planning for U.S school districts.
- Two Saudi men - one wearing a black trench coat despite the Florida heat -- terrifying 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.
- A March FBI/DHS bulletin noting "recent suspicious activity" by foreigners who drive school buses, are licensed to drive them, or have actually managed to purchase them right here at home. Including "members of the unnamed extremist groups" who have obtained commercial drivers licenses with school bus endorsements.
- Osama bin Laden's promise that the 2004 terrorist attack at Beslan will happen many times over in the United States.
In that time, little or nothing has been done to relieve parents' understandable anxieties, despite the fresh dots which continued to accrue on this disturbing non-puzzle.
Dots like the seventeen full-sized yellow school buses reported stolen from charter schools, business schools and private bus companies in Houston, Texas, over the past few months. Connect to that and previous disturbing stories the fact that thousands of school bus radios have also been stolen (2000 in California in 2005 alone), and the images shaped should be triggering earsplitting alarms throughout all branches of media and law enforcement.
But instead -- the silence looms apparent while the question remains: Why?
We ARE talking about School Buses
It's certainly no big stretch to imagine these purloined vehicles employed as mega-potent yet inconspicuous car-bombs to target schools or other heavily populated buildings, is it?
Or busloads of innocent, unsuspecting, tykes being exploited as hostages? Or, perhaps, kidnapped as prologue to a Beslan-style (see this article) school invasion horror story? Or -- our worst nightmare of all -- falling victim to some maniac who smiles the bassamat al-farah right before obliterating the bus and its tiny passengers from the driver's seat? Or all of the above?
Bear in mind, we're talking about school buses -- those nondescript yellow kiddie-movers into which parents have trustingly loaded their young for generations, never pausing to consider their naked vulnerability. Never, I can only hope, until now.
In his stirring article, The Logic of Suicide Terrorism, which first appeared in The Atlantic in June of 2003, terrorism expert Professor Bruce Hoffman examined the lure of bus explosions to twisted minds [Warning: Graphic]
"Buses remain among the bombers' preferred targets. Winter and summer are the better seasons for bombing buses ... because the closed windows (for heat or air-conditioning) intensify the force of the blast, maximizing the bombs' killing potential. As a hail of shrapnel pierces flesh and breaks bones, the shock wave tears lungs and crushes other internal organs. When the bus's fuel tank explodes, a fireball causes burns, and smoke inhalation causes respiratory damage. All this is a significant return on a relatively modest investment. Two or three kilograms of explosive on a bus can kill as many people as twenty to thirty kilograms left on a street or in a mall or a restaurant."
Can you imagine the heart-stopping horror of such an unthinkable event and its impact upon the nation -- particularly on parents of school-aged children? Or the image of a burning yellow school bus carcass indelibly burned into your subconscious between those of two falling towers and many more falling and burning fellow-Americans?
Let there be no doubt whatsoever: these abhorrent architects of fear most certainly can and do imagine it in their dreams.
Forewarned is Forearmed
The seemingly all lack of candor coming from Washington is outrageous, as are their lame attempts to distance the few tidbits they do throw us from Islamic terrorism. Thanks to the persistent efforts of advocacy groups like the ACLU and CAIR, half of our leaders and fellow-Americans are concerned as much with the plight of a few murderous enemies at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as they are with danger to the countless innocents in the homeland. The resulting political correctness and mindless tolerance-at-any-cost have created an atmosphere in which both warnings and enforcement must first be sieved through potential "racism" and "profiling" filters.
Further abetting this frustration is that when news does break out, it invariably ends with some hapless public servant assuring us that "parents and children have nothing to fear." Similar reassurance were given the doomed on the sinking Titanic.
It's certainly understandable that without locations or dates of specific threats, officials are disinclined to speculate publicly for fear of spreading unnecessary panic. But shouldn't parents at the very least be assured that the powers that be are working behind the scenes with school districts and first-responders to develop protection, threat assessment, and crisis plans? Does no one in authority appreciate the unique psychological torment of feeling helplessly incapable of protecting our children?
Thankfully, one thing that has improved since March, no thanks to DHS, is public awareness of the issue. And there's been no brighter source for this vital illumination than the radio and television shows of Glenn Beck.
Last month, I noticed a curious second wave of e-mail response to my March article. I later discovered the source of this sudden renewed interest in the topic -- Mr. Beck had been discussing the piece's subject on his radio show and promising a 4 part series on it for his nightly CNN show for months. Aptly timed, on the eve of the 6th anniversary of the 9/11 al Qaeda assaults, he delivered the first installment of his must-see expose.
The series title, Exposed: The Perfect Day, refers to an expression purportedly coined by al Qaeda vermin to describe an imminent day in which Americans are killed on an unprecedented scale. If you've been paying attention, you'll understand why it's prudent to assume that the targets of such massive, coordinated attacks will likely include both schools and school buses.
Episodes One and Two, essentially review the information I covered in March, with additional inspired insights from counterterrorism experts including Brad Thor and Lt. Col. Joe Ruffini and former FBI special agent Don Clark.
Thor lent a compelling observation that the recent bin Laden video, once-again calling on Americans to embrace Islam, fits al Qaeda's pattern of offering the enemy capitulation before decapitation. He also revealed that an "inside source" had confided a belief by Florida authorities that the Tampa bus incident was a "dry run," planned to expose our weaknesses. Am I alone in wondering whether or not such concerns have made their way up the food chain to DHS?
Ruffini added that all major charges against the 2 Saudis were dropped under intense pressure from our old friends at CAIR. No surprise there -- running interference for all plots Islamic appears to be the council's mission statement of late.
In Part 2, Beck aired more shocking video of the unparalleled inhumanity that was Beslan.
If you haven't done so, I urge you as a parent to experience both the series, and these videos.
Why Children are Targets - A gruesome perspective
Episode Three of The Perfect Day did a compelling job of exploring the "whys?" of targeting students. And the answers, as speculated by Beck, the returning Thor, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American/Islamic Forum for Democracy and former NY City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, will surely surprise you.
While Kerik concentrated primarily on the long-term economic impact on tourism, the airline industry, the stock market and, of course, our public education system, his fellow guests smelled a bigger, more rancid rat.
The show's captain mapped the discussion's course when he proposed that it's not about the body counts or spreading fear, but rather the backlash,
"and more importantly, it is about how that backlash would be used as propaganda in the foreign media, to unite extremists all over the world against us."
He then handed the ball off to the waiting Dr. Jasser, by asking:
"They want something so horrific where they are raping our children, killing them, torturing them, stuffing [them] out the windows, having the whole media see, because they want us to do what?"
And Jasser ran with it, explaining how these inhuman actions are intended to further divide the world into Muslim and non-Muslim. Our anticipated rage response to such unprecedented horror, predicts the doctor, would likely result in hate-crimes against Muslims, which al Jazeera would broadcast without context to 80 million people throughout the Middle East world.
Thor, who believes outraged Americans' reactions may well include "lynching Muslim people in the streets and burning mosques," adds:
"They want to reduce us to animals like them so that they can get the Islamic world behind them and finally get the holy war that they want kicked off and ignited."
We must use all methods at our disposal to uncover and prevent their future moves, and, failing that, be prepared to minimize our losses - lest we fall right into their barbarous hands.
What Can (and Must) be Done
My purpose here is not to shock or panic but rather to alarm you in a manner hopefully more Paul Revere than Wes Craven. And the response to that alarm must be action.
For starters, school districts are not the arena in which to score political points with the misguided champions of diversity and tolerance. What's needed is clear, level-headed decision making unfettered by all PC nonsense. The reports of "extremist group" members seeking positions as bus drivers here in the states and terrorists embedded as employees at School Number One in Beslan alone should serve as warning that school and bus company employees must be American citizens with confirmed immaculate backgrounds. Period.
Furthermore, the technology to retrofit all school buses with GPS tracking devices is as cheap as it is effective. American freight fleets have been installing them in trucks for years to combat hijacking. Do vehicles transporting our most precious cargo of all deserve any less protection? While some districts have taken this step, many more have not, as drivers' labor unions create roadblocks, calling such measures "Orwellian" and in at least one case, believe it or not, "racist." The hell with their self-serving whining -- these are our kids - demand that your district implement this crucial safety feature.
Episode Four of Beck's series introduced Kenneth Trump of National School Safety and Security Services, who wisely advised parents to know not only who's driving their kids' bus, but also the manner of training they've received:
"School districts do a great job of training drivers how to drive the bus, very poor job at training them on security procedures, recognizing and reporting strangers, what to do in an emergency situation, how you would get a hold of the police, what to do when the police show up, what to do if you have somebody pull a gun on a bus, what to do if you have a stranger or parent or irate parent or an unusual person, a terrorist, approach a bus, even just simple things."
Additionally, do you know how or even if your school district has prepared for a bus or building crisis? Are they practicing lockdown, active shooter and terrorist-siege scenarios and crisis response? Are drills crafted in coordination with first-responders and law enforcement? Are such drills regularly practiced?
Let's not forget, you're typically dealing with a "gun-free zone" liberal mindset in our public schools, where only one in four teachers dare confess to the perceived crime of thinking Republican. As April's 32 student death tragedy at Virginia Tech suddenly reminded us, such mentality rarely spawns a secure environment.
That's why it's up to you to hold their feet to the fire until you're completely comfortable with their response.
On Beck, Brad Thor recommended Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's strategy for school protection called the 4 Ds (Deter, Detect, Delay and Destroy). The plan combines awareness and prevention musts for parents, teachers and school officials with tactical advice for law enforcement. I suggest you read the article Preparing for school attacks, which the Colonel coauthored, to learn more about his warnings to avoid falling victim to the 5th D - Denial. After all, while the "odds of a school attack in your community are admittedly low ..to ignore the threat is to live in denial."
Dangerous denial, I might add. Especially when we refuse to imagine the possible worst before it happens.
Imagine all the People .....
To be sure, if there's one battlefield on which our fanatical enemies have outflanked us, it's that of imagination. While al Qaeda continues to develop diabolical methods of mass murder, our countermeasure response has targeted only those offenses previously deployed or otherwise detected. The already tedious waits at airports now made further agonizing by silly shoe surrender and ridiculous liquid restrictions are perfect examples of just how shortsightedly reflexive these responses have been.
But the lives of our progeny depend on a more proactive, imaginative approach. We now know that the FBI ignored a summer of 2001 memo urging an investigation into Middle Eastern men enrolled in American flight schools that actually suggested bin Laden's involvement. Dare we repeat that fatal lack of imagination, given current similar warnings, and do nothing until another 3000 (or, perhaps, many more) are slaughtered? What greater call to action do we possibly need?
Last week we learned of nine postcards sent to different schools in Marion County, Florida, each with a crudely hand drawn cartoon depicting a building exploding and spewing bodies to the ground. Each card also contained the handwritten caption "Jihad Boom" and the words "9-11 ? 10-10." Several schools in the same county had received written threats just a week earlier promising attacks on the September 11 anniversary.
Hoax or genuine threat? Not yet determined. Then again, as of this writing there's been neither a response from DHS nor any confirmation that the feds are even involved in the investigation, despite the threats moving through US mail. Jihad Boom? 9-11? Not realizing whose lap any threats containing such words belong in transcends failures of imagination to touch upon gross incompetence.
It's high time DHS stops treating us like children, so that we may better protect our own children.
We reassure our frightened kids, awakened from nightmares, that what scared them was only a dream - not real -- there's no such thing as monsters.
Dreadfully, we know all too well that's no longer the truth - and so does our Department of Homeland Security.
Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.