Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

If You See Something, Say Something

Critics complain that Americans have been overly-jubilant and decidedly un-Christian in their revelry over Osama Bin Laden’s demise. Yet, I don’t see any effigies of the late terrorist mastermind being hung or burnt, stuffed with ham, or boiled in grease. They haven’t been burning anyone’s flags, only waving their own. They didn’t parade down the streets of the Muslim sections of any American city, breaking windows and threatening the residents. All they’ve done is celebrate the fact that America regained a little of her pride and, after ten years, brought Bin Laden to justice (as best they could).

The reaction from the Arab street seems to be a little too quiet. The silence is rather ominous. Yes, the imam of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem has vowed revenge. But we haven’t seen many videos of demonstrations; only one or two. Security officials say the lack of response is a sign that Bin Laden had lost his stature among Muslims.

I’m not so sure about that. Yes, we had a victory Sunday. But the terrorists are very sore losers. So are their cheerleaders, the Arab street. Are they remaining silent because organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood have told them that the way to power is through politics, not violence. That now that “democracy” as at hand, they have no more need of violence.

Or are they just biding their time, waiting like a coiled-up snake for the right time to strike? The word from Guantanamo is that KSM vowed nuclear retaliation if Osama was captured or killed. KSM will prevaricate. He’ll play games with his handlers over details. He’ll posture, pose, and mock. But it’s unlikely that he’ll ever lie about a threat. He just won’t send you an engraved invitation.

Which means we have to help the authorities out as best we can, keeping our eyes and ears open, and our cell phones ready to make that call, or take that photo (as long as you’re at a safe distance so you won’t get hurt). They really do hate having their pictures taken and usually will run like cockroaches. That’s the first tip-off that something’s wrong.

New Yorkers in particular have to change their attitude. They have a tendency to walk straight ahead and not look around them, like horses with blinders on. If they don’t want a successful Times Square incident, they’re going to have to start paying a little better attention. It’s dangerous, I know; I worked in the city. There are a lot of crazy people in New York and like vicious dogs, the worst thing you can do is look them in the eye; doing so can get you injured or even killed.

Terrorists are masters of disguises. They can look like ordinary people. Or they can dress themselves up in some sort of uniform: janitor, waitress, busboy, delivery driver construction worker. What you have to look out for is the unusual, out-of-place behavior – for instance, a construction worker leaning on his shovel, not doing anything. Despite all the jokes, hardhats really do work hard, and if you see one not working, especially for a long period of time, something’s wrong.

A guy standing out in the middle of the road taking photos of a fast-food place or someone taking photos of an embassy or a factory or a store, or some other building that really doesn’t have landmark status.

They won’t necessarily be carrying big, long lens cameras. Those things draw attention. It’s when they take a photo of something unusual, looking surreptitiously around to see if any authorities are watching, pull the camera out of pocket, snap the photo, then shove the camera back in the pocket and walk away quickly.

Then of course, there are the characters who drop bags on city sidewalks, sometimes to test the city’s response level. They’ll do it amidst a large crowd of people, where the drop can’t be noticed and they disappear in the throng (with people tripping over the bag and cursing). If you hear an unusual amount of cursing (for the Big Apple that is), dial 911. Only kidding.

Most buildings have their own security and by now they should know what to do. All over the country, workers in the transportation and travel industries have been taught what to look out for in terms of suspicious behavior.  Even in small towns like mine, where our granite hills are the site of former iron mines from the colonial days, people need to be vigilant.  Mohammed Atta was probably our town's most notorious visitor.

So keep an eye out and ask God’s help in looking for signs of trouble. Bin Laden’s dead, but terrorism isn’t.

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