We the People: Europe remains on high alert in wake of Charlie Hebdo murders

The mayor of New York City has softened his stance with the NYPD and denounced the handful anti-police protestors who continue to spout inaccurate and hateful slogans while attempting to disrupt city life. D.A. Dan Donovan of Staten Island’s race for Michael Grimm’s seat in Congress will likely engender some law enforcement/civil rights debate whenever the special election is held. Assemblymember Malliotakis has removed herself from consideration for the seat.

Islamic extremists plotting to murder police officers and civilians in Europe were thwarted when counter‑terrorism raids in Belgium and France led to the deaths of two suspected jihadists and the arrest of 15 others. The police shot two suspects dead and wounded another in the Belgian town of Verviers.

The dead jihadists had automatic weapons and police uniforms and were ready to launch terrorist attacks around Belgium. A Belgian official stated that 13 suspected terrorists were arrested in Belgium overnight and two detained in France. The three Verviers suspects were Belgian nationals and believed to be part of a homegrown cell of jihadists that had trained in Syria.

The police also recovered a “significant amount of money.” Who is supplying the financial and logistical support to these criminals? An anonymous Belgian counter‑terrorism official told CNN that the alleged terror cell was believed to have received instructions from Islamic State. A different intelligence source in Europe said that the ongoing terror threat involved up to 20 sleeper cells of between 120 to 180 people ready to kill in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

French and German authorities arrested at least 14 other persons in Europe suspected of supporting ISIS. All of Europe is on high alert for possible terrorist attacks. These counter terrorism raids are intended to pre‑empt more “Charlie Hebdo” style attacks. It makes one wonder why the police did not act earlier, which may have stopped the Paris attack. The free people of Europe and the North America have sacrificed in order to protect our societies from terrorism. Is it time to reconsider some of our policies?

The American people were sold a bill of goods before the invasion of Iraq invasion that only our leaders could decide the right course of action and that debate was considered weak or unpatriotic. In reality, we learned that it was more important to the Bush administration to go ahead with its plans than to listen to its allies and other sources of information about the connection of Saddam Hussein and international terrorism.

It is clear that Weapons of Mass Destruction were the smokescreen to divert scrutiny from the administration’s pre-determined decision to wage a war that was based on ideological imperatives. It is a shame that the realities of war could be ignored because the perceived benefits of such a foreign policy outweighed the costs to the people.

The war paved the way for the Patriot Act, FISA, wireless wiretapping, domestic spying by the federal government, the abrogation of habeas corpus, rendition, water boarding and Guantanamo Bay — all in the name of security for the American people.

The problem is that all of this cannot guarantee complete security … no policy can do that. We live diminished lives and must assume the role of policeman for the world. It is a role that engenders future generations of terrorists.

Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist have a very simple strategic goal: remove Western power and influence in the Middle East and put Muslim theocracies in power. The war on terrorism has been successful but it has created low-level, loosely-organized terrorism that cannot effectively be prevented.

When we weaken the “heart” of terrorism, the power moves to dispersed limbs of the terrorist organization. Does that mean we should end the fight against terrorists? No. We need to concentrate on the struggle for the minds of the threatened people and the minds of the people who produce the terrorists.

We need civil debate that permits different ideas without an immediate “unpatriotic” label. While we remain vigilant against assault we must lessen the appeal of extreme fundamentalism. We can show people that there are better things to do for faith, family and for yourself than to seek out the destruction of other people.

The Daily Mail reported that the Moroccan‑born mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands stated that a fellow Muslim who did not appreciate the “freedoms” of living in the West should “pack your bags and fu**‑off.”

The comment was made on live television hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. The mayor was succinctly reminding people of all backgrounds that they can support their adopted countries even when they disagree with some policies or ideas. The Amish in America live by certain religious rules which occasionally cause conflict with civil authority but no Amish ever murdered another person for the sake of religion.

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