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Thursday, June 16, 2005

"Mainstream must weed out homegrown terrorism"

The Indianapolis Star is running an op-ed discussing the need to monitor and prevent "homegrown terrorism", not just "foreign" or "Islamist" terrorism:

As we obsess with threats of foreign, Islamist terrorism, we tend to ignore a more real and pervasive threat: homegrown terrorism. It is easy to forget that until Sept. 11, 2001, the most violent terrorist attack on U.S. soil was committed by two white Christian Americans. The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people, including babies and toddlers in the building's day-care center.

Blacks, Jews, Muslims and gays are standard targets of hate groups and "lone wolves" who commit acts intended to terrorize entire communities. Sikhs -- whose turbans led ignorant haters to mistake them for Muslims after 9/11 -- have also been attacked and even murdered.

The vast majority of the 1.3 billion Muslims are not terrorists. Nor are most abortion opponents in this country. But to say that the extremist fringe has no connection culturally or ideologically to the mainstream is to ignore social reality.

If we are to reduce terrorism at home and abroad, one of the essential elements will be for people within the mainstream to thoroughly denounce and marginalize their own fringe elements. Muslim leaders and ordinary believers must de-legitimize their bin Ladens.

A comment on this piece. There is a questions as to whether the mainstream can weed out homegrown terrorism. the suggestion that the mainstream is connected to the extreme is not shared by all observers of the post-9/11 climate, particularly not all Muslims. Indeed, we noted yesterday that a Muslim man providing helpful answers and advice to the FBI in Seattle said bluntly: "The common man in Islam is no different than the common man here. The common man cannot bring terrorists to justice."

Perhaps one way in which the everyday Muslim can stop terrorism is to be careful where he donates his money to. Yesterday, a "senior official with the U.S. Treasury Department who deals with charity financing of terrorism, told about 30 local Arab-American and Muslim leaders that they must play an active role in regulating themselves to make sure they're not supporting terror." The official noted, "You all -- the American Muslim community -- have the most power to make a difference...."

Clearly, there is a difference of opinion as to the effectiveness of the objections or abilities of "ordinary believers" or the "common man" to prevent or minimize terrorist attacks taking place on U.S. soil.

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