Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Jihad in Jersey?

No, geek, it's not the new Mack Bolan novel.

This isn't getting a lot of coverage in the "mainstream media" (although it's getting more than the Muslim-bashers care to admit -- the Internet backbones are collapsing beneath indignant "why is this being ignored?" newsgroup posts, even though Google indexes somewhere in the neighborhood of 275 stories).

Robbery, good old-fashioned religious grudge, or, dare I say it, terrorism?

Some reports indicate that it may related to the trial of Lynne Stewart, an attorney accused of smuggling messages to terrorist accomplices for one of her clients, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Apparently, a cousin of the slain family worked for the prosecution.

I'm leaning toward the second explanation, though. Here's why:

- If the Sheik's group, or any other Islamist terror group, has operating cells in the US, they aren't going to waste their time and risk their cover trying to intimidate people engaged in prosecuting a low-level flunkie like Stewart.

- Terrorism only works if the acts breed terror. A quadruple homicide, while horrible, just isn't very effective as terrorism ... especially if no credit is taken for it and no message is attached to it. A terror cell wouldn't allow the impression that this was a robbery or a grudge killing to take root. They'd make it clear that this fate awaited others who opposed themselves to the group's agenda. That's what terrorism is all about.

But let's just assume, for a moment, that the act was intended as a terrorist act. That leaves the "war on terror" cheerleaders a bit over a barrel. After all, they've been claiming that the US strategy abroad is justified by the fact that there haven't been any terror attacks on US soil since 9/11 (they conveniently forget the anthrax mail attacks, the LAX shooting spree, etc., or write those attacks off as minor, even "nothing").

If this was a terror attack, that pretty much wraps it up for the "George Bush has kept America free from attacks by moving the war overseas" crowd. And if it's "nothing" like the anthrax scare and the LAX spree ... well, why are they making such a big deal about it? Can't have it both ways, folks.

My suspicion is that this was a Muslim-Copt blood feud, and pretty much a private one, for all that some of the pre-killing talking occurred on the Internet. Tragic for the slain family, and definitely a horrendous crime for which the perpetrators ought to pay, but that doesn't make it terrorism.

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