To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
Most terrorism experts agree, it is no longer a question of "if," it is now a question of "when" - when will suicide belt-bombers bring their brand of terrorism to the United States?
We have all seen the horrific scenes from Israel after suicide bombers entered crowded restaurants or buses and detonated themselves, usually killing or injuring scores of innocent civilians. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already warned the U.S. Congress that suicide bombers may next target the United States. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has indicated more than once that there is an "enduring vulnerability" to attack by suicide bombers on American soil.
In 1997, two men from Brooklyn, NY - one Palestinian and one Lebanese - were arrested as they finalized a belt-bomb plot against the New York City subway system. In the 1980s, suicide bombers were used in Lebanon, Kuwait and Sri Lanka. In the 1990s, this form of terrorism spread to Israel, India, Panama, Algeria, Pakistan, Argentina, Croatia, Turkey, Tanzania and Kenya, and it has been used against our troops in Iraq.
The goal of the suicide bombers is to sacrifice their lives with the intent to destroy targets to advance their political objectives. The suicide bombers are psychologically and physically trained to die while destroying their enemy targets.
According to propaganda from various groups that use suicide belt-bombers, those who sacrifice their lives love death. In the eternal life, Hamas, Fatah and Al Qaeda videotapes reveal, "there will be rivers of honey and 72 virgins as reward for being 'martyred' in the glorious fight against the despised enemies of God." Usually, the families of those who martyr themselves are taken care of financially.
Jane's lists 10 groups capable of using suicide terrorism. While most on the list would not want to turn public opinion in the United States against their cause by using suicide bombers in America, the Osama bin Laden network of Al Qaeda is on the list. Al Qaeda members have certainly demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice themselves against American targets. Other experts feel that the radical elements of the Palestinian organizations that use suicide belt-bombers would have no problem using belt-bombs in America, since they feel America supports Israel, and this may be the only way to move America away from its support of Israel.
The ingredients are all in place. America's porous border with Canada certainly is an inviting method for suicide belt-bombers to enter the United States. The making of the belt-bomb is relatively inexpensive - costing only about $150 - and most of the materials can be bought locally.
Many experts feel that as America hardens specific targets against hijackings, car bombs and other terror tactics, terrorists have moved toward suicide belt-bombings, which are difficult to defend against. Al Qaeda has used trucks, ships and airplanes against American targets. Concrete barriers may stop truck bombers and tougher security at airports may prevent further hijackings, but it is difficult to stop a human bomb. The human bomber is cheap, explosives are easily concealed beneath clothing until detonated at a carefully chosen moment, and the result is highly lethal and attracts wide media coverage.
So where would we expect to see suicide belt-bombers in America? Many point to shopping malls, restaurants, night clubs, sporting events and VIPs who might be mingling with a crowd. If suicide belt-bombers choose to use their terror weapon in shopping malls, you can almost predict what would happen to the economy as Americans stop shopping in malls. Unfortunately, suicide belt-bombs are not only a weapon, but they are a weapon with a message - that you are not safe anywhere.