Back in my “Cold War” terrorist hunting days I was dealing with political extremists rather than religious extremists. World terrorism was mainly driven by communist ideology and while the terrorists were perfectly willing to die they much preferred to live to fight another day. They weren’t cowards, but they weren’t driven by thoughts of rewards and compliant virgins – what odd fellow thought of that – in the afterlife either. One thing they had in common with today’s religious extremists is that they did not faint from killing. They could be cold blooded indeed, though short of a few videotaped executions, I don’t recall any of them sawing a screaming victim’s head off with a dull machete while reciting verses from their favorite prophet. That takes a special brand of maniac.
There is no workable “profile” for the terrorist of today. They come from every walk of life. They range from dirt poor to exceedingly wealthy; from uneducated street thugs to engineers and scientists with advanced degrees from prestigious European and American universities. They can and will be black, white, Asian or Hispanic and they will have little in common with each other except for ideology and a lack of human decency. So what sets them apart from the rest of us, or even from common criminals?
For one thing, terrorists are not necessarily loners. To achieve the level of effectiveness they have, it has been necessary for them to bond with others of a like mind. They have close friendships, teachers and heroes. While many of them appear to commit their acts of terror alone, in fact they are not alone. In an overwhelming number of cases, they are being handled right up to the moment of the initiation of the act. Their personal act of terror is a single scene in a multi-act drama and while today it’s their turn, tomorrow it will be someone else’s, and know one knows when the curtain will finally close on the last act.
Other terrorist acts may be more sophisticated and complex and require teams, as was the case of the 9-11 mass murders. The teams will normally be made up of a group of people very familiar with each other. They organize and plan together, they often do recreation together, they seldom associate outside their group and when the time comes, they execute together.
The foregoing was a complete over-simplification, but this isn’t a thesis on terrorists. So let me get to the point. With regards to terror within the United States, it is doubtful that another Oklahoma City bombing would occur today, in the same manner in which it occurred in 1995. Why? The bombing of the Murrah building represents modern America’s domestic initiation into the world of international terror. Oh, I know, we’ve all been told that Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were the lone bombers and that there was no John Doe #2. One need only read an investigation titled “The Third Terrorist,” by Jayna Davis to suspect what we have accepted as the truth is merely a clumsily-crafted deceit perpetrated on America for reasons that will one day hopefully become clear.
In the mean time, if you cannot accept Davis’ premise, at least accept that preparations for any future attack post 9-11 and Oklahoma, of the same or greater magnitude would probably result in some citizen noticing something and reporting their suspicions to the proper authorities. After that, we can only hope that the authorities would give such reporting greater emphasis today, than they did all the available evidence they apparently suppressed or ignored that ran contrary to the “carnival-style” snake-oil show the government presented the world concerning the Oklahoma City bombing.
Perhaps I might be a bit harsh, but considering the magnitude of the offense and the vaunted reputation of the of the investigative agencies involved, it staggers the mind to realize that investigators missed explosive components buried in the crawl space of the Nichols’ home for ten years after the event! One has to wonder what other snippets slipped through the cracks once they had fixated on McVeigh and Nichols and had solved their crime, even as the ruins continued to smolder.
Rest assured, the Oklahoma City bombing was a complex affair replete with fumbling, bumbling and errors on the part of the perpetrators. Looking back, it’s devilishly miraculous that it succeeded in the first place. The sad truth is, I believe with all my heart that had 9-11 happened first, Oklahoma wouldn’t have succeeded at all. There were too many people who became suspicious over the activities of McVeigh, Nichols and their Middle Eastern accomplices in the run up to the bombing. Had everyone had real “terror” on the mind, the plot wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. While the majority of Americans have not really increased their awareness or polished their observational skills, enough of us have that it may make a difference in similar, future situations.
We’ll discuss how best we can increase our vigilance and hopefully – whether knowingly or not – save future lives in the bargain.