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Terrorism – Is there a way for you to help?

December 3, 2015

In the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, one tidbit of information is particularly concerning.

A neighbor of the shooters reports that she was inclined to call the authorities when she observed what she felt was unusual behavior on the part of her neighbors.

She also is reported to have said that she declined to do so for fear of being seen as a racial or religious bigot.

I would not want to be that neighbor today.  Not because she actually did anything wrong, given the political climate in the U.S. today, but because she has to saying to herself ” I may have been able to stop all this with one phone call.”  That’s a heavy load.

One of the unfortunate side effects of the rise of the radical Islamic-based death cults in this political environment is that neighbors will begin to distrust neighbors that fit a certain physical characteristic.

Does that mean that some perfectly innocent Muslims will be singled out for attention?

Of course it does.

But let’s look again at the neighbor’s reasoning, and why she, and probably many others are afraid to say something when they see something out of the ordinary.

Think for yourself.

First, turn off the TV and put down your phone. In most cases they are not useful as a predictive tool.

The media’s ratings-driven desire to postulate all sorts of scenarios, only a few that are perhaps based on facts in existence, is mostly just a case of them talking to have something to say to fill airtime.

As is usual in all of these types of incidents, you also have the political class trying to accomplish the same goal, i.e. to keep your eye on the ball they have in play.

That ball seems to be political survival, not national survival.

The evidence has not yet led to a concrete conclusion regarding the motive for someone stepping into a gathering of co-workers at a Christmas party and slaughtering as many people as possible. Maybe it’s just two crazy people that wanted to hurt someone. Maybe it’s jihad.

Time will tell. The troubling issue is that it probably could have been stopped. In fact in most of the incidents going clear back to 9/11, people’s suspicions were aroused, but not to a level that resulted in reports that offered a chance at interdiction when it might have mattered.

Telling the authorities that you have  suspicions about someone’s behavior should not bring scorn, ridicule or punishment from our politicians, and most especially not from the President of the United States.

The neighbor is reported to have said that the delivery of a lot of boxes, and the couple’s late night sessions in their garage just didn’t look right.

That’s not religious or racial profiling. It’s the observation of a behavior by a concerned citizen. The obvious ethnicity or religious habits of the killers was not the issue.

It may be true, and probably is, that people of Middle Eastern origin or ethnicity are receiving more attention now than say 20 years ago.

That is a function of the reality of jihadist movements.  Of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, it is undeniably true that only a tiny fraction espouse or practice terrorism.

It also remains true that while not all Muslims are terrorists, all jihadists are Muslim, or are supported or paid by Muslims.

That leaves us in a quandary.

No one wants to repeat the admittedly inhumane and over-reactive Japanese internment camp model of the 1940’s.

No one wants to be shot or blown up at the mall or at work either.

Is there a workable solution?

With the leader of our country  unable or unwilling to call the Islamic terrorist death cults what they are, and the instant knee-jerk reaction of the far left to label any such jihadist-linked incident anything but jihad-inspired violence,  how can we balance fairness with fear?

One way would be to pass a National Terrorism Good Samaritan law, whereby you can report your suspicions to a law enforcement agency, preferably your local agency at the outset (because they are more intimately familiar with the people in their jurisdiction), without fearing that the IRS, FBI or DOJ is going to investigate you instead of the persons arousing your suspicions.

That law would also have to protect the right of local law enforcement  to investigate complaints without being accused of  racial profiling or bigotry.

How would this help?

Most cities and towns today have some version of Crimestopper hotlines allowing for anonymous tips, but they are fragmented.  Insofar as is known, there is no national database linked to local report lines that can coordinate similar reports into a national geographic and behavioral overlay.

The advantage to this reporting model over the NSA’s mass data collection model is that the tips coming in would be specific to a certain classification of crime, hopefully allowing law enforcement to use their resources more effectively.

We finally wised up that we can’t be suing people who stop to help at an accident for being good citizens.

Likewise, we need to wise up to the fact that the very best intelligence doesn’t start with law enforcement.  It starts with each of us.

There will be unintended consequences.

Even a national CYA law wouldn’t be perfect.  Given the nature of humans, there are going to be many erroneous tips, and yes, some of them may even be generated by true xenophobes.

Unfortunately that’s a by-product of the world we live in today. With adequate investigative work on the part of law enforcement the collateral damage to people’s reputations can be kept to a minimum.

It does no good to parrot “If you see something, say something” unless the person reporting isn’t treated like the bad guy.

What you can do now.

In the absence of any national will to contain terrorism here or abroad, if you can do nothing else, call and leave some anonymous tips if you have real suspicions.  Call several times if you have to, because moving bureaucracies to action is more like water eroding stone than the reaction of an incident response team like you see on TV.

Remember, the President’s reasoning notwithstanding, it takes people to pick up a gun, build a pipe bomb or radio-triggered IED, or fashion a suicide vest.

#Stopthe humansStop the violence. Feel free to re-tweet a link to this post if you think the idea has merit.

From → op-ed

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