Disbanding terrorist groups no easy feat

Freedom New Mexico

The U.K. Guardian described the savage terrorist attacks in Mumbai as “India’s 9/11.”

The Chicago Tribune concluded, “We are India,” similarly finding common ground with the 150-plus victims of terrorism that targeted luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other locales in the city formerly known as Bombay.

Closer to the slaughter, India’s media understandably had a more parochial perspective, lambasting their nation’s intelligence and defense agencies for failing to prevent the attacks.

The truth is some amalgam of all these and other perspectives, made all the more difficult to sort out given terrorists’ methods.

We remain uncertain whom exactly to blame for the bloodshed, even though some have blamed a Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which means “Army of the Pure.”

Like so many before them, this inspired band of murderers was unknown to the world prior to their killing rampage. This is the inherent problem of terrorists who lurk in the shadows. Who are these people, really? What are their motives, really? How can we know for certain, even after the fact? Who will the next previously unknown group be to take innocent blood? Is it even possible to see them coming before they hit again?

There are no easy answers.

Certainly, radical Islamic forces claim responsibility for vast swaths of death, from London to Madrid to New York and in numerous previous occurrences in India. But it’s an imprecise science sorting out whether perpetrators are driven by unholy apocalyptic visions or more pragmatic nationalistic motives, such as separatism.

The ambiguity makes the worldwide threat a Gordian knot of complexity for nation-states. Not only are terrorists outfitted with state-of-the-art weaponry and willing to die for their cause, but knowing who they are and where they will strike is the ultimate needle-in-a-haystack search. The chaos they create for orderly societies is doubly difficult because of the chaos from which they emerge.

India’s intelligence and national defense agencies probably were inadequate to the task. The proof is in the bodies strewn at hotels and other targeted locations. The question is whether any intelligence and defense agency is up to such a security challenge. That may be why our government has warned that despite receiving no specific recent threats, “an attack could possibly be conducted during the forthcoming holiday season” in the United States.

We have been blessed with no deadly terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11, understanding that some nefarious plans may have been averted by intelligence work. But as Mumbai may demonstrate, killers may be resorting to the path of least resistance. And, it signals the threat may not end anytime soon.

We will recommend, though, that the U.S. should lean toward individual liberty in its public policies, and remain hopeful that civilized people can dam up the violence before there’s another outpouring.