There seems to be a new rule in the Department of Homeland Security and the national security community:
“No individual attack can be considered a terrorist act unless there is clear public evidence tying it to Al Qaeda.”
This comes in handy for those federal agencies which forbid their employees to use sensitive words such as “jihad”. For example the National Counterterrorism Center:
Never use the terms “jihadist” or “mujahideen” in conversation to describe the terrorists. A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means “striving in the path of God” and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions.
The media are ready to jump on the bandwagon. According to the guidelines issued by the Society of Professional Journalists for its members:
Avoid using terms such as “jihad” unless you are certain of their precise meaning and include the context when they are used in quotations. The basic meaning of “jihad” is to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself.
We can be thankful that our government and our journalists are out there keeping an eye on these tricky semantic details. With their help, American citizens are well-informed and can be alert for “violent extremism”. Or whatever terms we’re allowed to use to describe the people who hijack a great religion and distort the tenets of their faith in an attempt to kill American citizens on American soil.
Yes, we get the picture: No “jihad”, no “terrorism”, no problem. Right?
That’s apparently what happened last night in Times Square. No “terrorism” was involved, despite the fact that the Taliban has claimed credit for an amateurish car bomb planted in a parked van in the heart of New York City. According to The New York Daily News:
A Taliban official in Pakistan took credit Sunday for parking the crude yet powerful car bomb in Times Square but police were looking into all angles — including possible retaliation for a South Park cartoon lampooning censorship about Mohammed.
Mind you, the fact that the Taliban claimed credit doesn’t carry much weight. After all, if Obama fell down in the bathtub and cracked his skull, they’d phone the BBC immediately and claim their mujahideen were responsible.
But “officials” are doing more than doubting the Taliban’s bragging. They’re doubting that any terrorism was involved:
Officials were skeptical of linking the foiled attack to international terrorist groups, calling it more likely a “one-off” or “lone wolf.” Preliminary signs suggest “that this was not part of any plot by al Qaeda or another known terrorist organization,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
This is a routine characterization for virtually any attempted or successful act of violence by a follower of the prophet Mohammed. If there’s no obvious immediate connection with Al Qaeda, it’s not “terrorism”. And wearing an “I ♥ Osama” t-shirt doesn’t count. If he’s not carrying an Official Al Qaeda Shahid Field Operations Manual at the moment of detonation, he’s not a “terrorist”.
As I’ve pointed out numerous times in the past, the mantra “No Connection With Terrorism” is recited by DHS spokesbeings almost before the 911 caller hangs up.
They did it with the Killer Shrink of Fort Hood. They did it with the Christmas lap bomber. The pesky connections with Anwar Al-Awlaki and the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda can be overlooked — these guys weren’t “terrorists”, they were psychologically disturbed “lone wolves” who got a bit overwrought and decided to kill Americans while shouting “Allahu Akhbar!”
The Times Square non-terrorist incident might have been pretty lethal if an alert street vendor hadn’t noticed the smoke in time:
The materials were primitive, but if the van had blown, officials said the inferno would have eclipsed the blazing lights of the Crossroads of the World.
“I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
“We are very, very lucky,” said a police source.
And the DHS take?
– – – – – – – – –
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the feds were treating the incident as “a potential terrorist attack.”
No, not really:
“Right now, we have no information other than it is a one-off,” she told ABC.
What makes the story more interesting is the possible South Park connection:
Police sources told the Daily News they were aggressively looking for connections to recent threats against Comedy Central made after the animators depicted Mohammed masked by a bear costume.
The Nissan Pathfinder, its engine running and hazards flashing, was parked on W 45th St. right next to the 1515 Broadway headquarters of Viacom, which owns Comedy Central.
Last month, RevolutionMuslim.com posted a graphic photo of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 for making documentary on violence against Muslim women and warned animators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that “they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show.”
The Daily News has a lot more interesting details about the course of the investigation. The van’s license plate was stolen, its VIN was partially obliterated, and the police are looking at surveillance camera videos to find out more about it and the people who drove it to Times Square.
According to ABC News:
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the Nissan Pathfinder that held the bomb was seen on a camera traveling west at 6:28 p.m., minutes before the device was found. Officials were seeking the identity of the driver.
Inside the SUV, investigators found three propane cylinders, two five-gallon jerry cans of gasoline, a canister of powder, electrical components and a timing device, police officials said. There was no high-grade explosive, and the timing device was clocks attached to wires, police said.
“This is a bomb. This is a car bomb — a crude device that includes gasoline, propane and is wired together,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Saturday.
The first cop on the scene gives his account of what happened:
When the vendors saw smoke and alerted mounted police Officer Wayne Rhatigan, he sprang into action.
“I did a lap around the vehicle. The inside was smoking,” Rhatigan told the Daily News.
“I smelled gunpowder and knew it might blow. I thought it might blow any second.”
For his part, Rhatigan, 47, said he still plans to retire this year after 19 years of service to the NYPD.
“Of all the idiots in New York, I find this thing,” he said. “I was almost a fireball.”
Eventually the people who did this will be caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to a long stretch in a federal slammer. After hundreds of man-hours of police and FBI investigation and millions of dollars’ worth of prosecution, a few guys named Mohammed or Ahmed or Abdul or Walid will be behind bars, writing their memoirs for Al-Jazeera or Iranian TV.
But it is not terrorism, nor does it involve jihad, and, above all, it has nothing to do with Islam — which, as we know, condemns all forms of violence against innocent people.
Even if one of these jury-rigged contraptions goes off someday and litters the street with hundreds of smoking corpses, it won’t be terrorism or jihad. We’ll know that, because our government will tell us so.
And after every event like this one, we’re right back where we started. As long as we remain caught in the straitjacket of politically correct terminology, we will be unable to name the enemy.
And if we can’t name him, we can’t defeat him.