NORMAN — After a dozen years of the war on terror, America has grown somewhat complacent toward the threat of Muslim fundamentalist terrorism here at home.
It’s clear that the war abroad and our security measures at home have rendered al-Qaida incapable of executing a large-scale strike against the United States comparable to the Twin Towers and Pentagon attacks of 2001 that left nearly 3,000 dead.
Instead, al-Qaida has been relegated to failed, individual attempts such as “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
To be sure, lone lunatics like Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 at Fort Hood in 2009, may have been inspired by Islamic fanaticism. But evidence suggests he was acting alone.
Now, with the Boston Marathon bombings, it appears we have something different, something that falls between the massive terrorist operation of Sept. 11, 2001, and the individual attacks by the likes of the shoe bomber.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may not have been bona-fide al-Qaida operatives sent on a mission to terrorize Americans. But they surely were fellow travelers with the al-Qaida philosophy.
It’s one thing to wage war against a terrorist organization that has facilities, installations and a leadership structure to attack. It’s another matter to fight a philosophy of hatred.
One day, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a well-liked college student — an all-American boy, despite the unusual name. The next day, he’s blowing up men, women and little kids with a homemade bomb.
If this is the new front in the war on terror, we will be hard pressed to defeat it.
— The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.