We face a deadly, intractable enemy. Islamic terrorists target our military and civilians alike, sometimes overseas, and now, right here at home. These are agents acting under orders or on their own; either way, supporters of the enemy’s doctrine have gone so far as to successfully open fire on Americans within the borders of the US.
We are well past the point at which it has become evident that our nation is under attack by Islamic terrorists. Men who genuinely believe they are serving the will of (a murderous, bloodthirsty) god are planning and carrying out brazen shootings on American soil, usually targeting our brave military in their attacks. These people are particularly difficult to stop because their own lives mean nothing to them; usually, they are happy to die in completing their missions – and they often do.
As a reminder, this is not the first–or second--time an Islamist has targeted a military center.
In June 9, 2009, Carlos Bledsoe entered a Little Rock, Arkansas recruiting center. He shot and killed two Army Privates, one of whom was 23 years old while the other was just 18. Bledsoe had recently converted to Islam and flown to Yemen to study Arabic – likely due to the Islamic belief that only when read in that language (its original) is the Quran an infallible holy book. After being caught and interrogated, he admitted that while in Yemen he had been contacted by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which asked him to carry out the attack in the name of jihad.
And then there is the case that is almost instantly recognizable, that of Major Nidal Hasan, who went on a shooting spree in Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, killing 13 people and wounding 32 others. Hasan had been undergoing increasing stress as his imminent deployment to Afghanistan drew nearer; a Muslim man, he worried that if he fought against other Muslims for the United States, he would go to hell. The day he was scheduled to report to his processing center before shipping off, he carried out the deadly attack.
Now, it has happened again. On Thursday, July 16, 24 year old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, on two different military sites, killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor before he himself was killed in a shootout with law enforcement. At least one police officer was wounded as he heroically battled the shooter.
Abdulazeez was a known drug addict who some believe suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. When his family sent him to live in Jordan for a time in the hopes of alleviating his substance abuse, something happened to him overseas that caused those closest to him to report that he had “changed” upon his return. He began strongly criticizing the U.S. government’s war on terror, and sending text messages to friends that included ominous verses from the Quran, including “Whoever shows enmity to a friend of mine, then I have declared war against him.” His parents have distanced themselves from his actions, saying that by the time he committed them, he was no longer the son they knew and loved. They have expressed their condolences to the families of those military service members he killed.
In the aftermath of this heinous shooting, a controversy erupted that should have never been. When Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that flags at the U.S. Capitol building would fly at half staff in honor of the victims, they wondered publicly why President Obama had not made a similar order at the White House. Spokespeople for the administration dragged their feet and dodged questions from the press about this, until finally, five days after the shooting, Obama finally relented and had the flags lowered. There has still been no order at the national level, something that has been done in the past for other tragedies.
There should never have been an argument about the White House’s flags flying at half staff. When brave American military service members die on their home soil to cowardly attacks by a distant enemy, it should go without saying that they will be honored in any way possible. Today, in an age when our soldiers are no longer safe even on U.S. soil, they continue to bravely put their lives in jeopardy to protect us. Why is it so much to ask that when they make the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us, they be honored for all that they did and all that they gave? It is, frankly, shameful that this was even made an issue. It is an insult to their memory that this was not instantly done, and it raises the question of why the President of the United States – the Commander in Chief of the armed forces – apparently needed to be shamed into showing this basic respect.
Our own President avoids calling Islamic terrorism what it is, for fear that others will think he is at war with a religious faith, and he spares no opportunity to remind everyone that most Muslims are not the enemy. Yes, there are over a billion people in the world who follow Islam, and the vast majority of them do not commit acts of violence in support of their faith. But the people who are committing violence against us are Muslims, and to avoid calling them so because others practice the faith in a responsible, civilized way is not sensitive. In fact it is outright denial of reality.
America’s military is the one and only force standing between average citizens and the cold-blooded brutality of Islamic terrorists. Why can’t our government understand the seriousness of this threat? Why are our law enforcement and intelligence agencies still unable – in some cases, specifically disallowed – from sharing information with one another and working together? How can we protect our soldiers when they come home? Why are our leaders struggling with managing to call the sky blue while little to nothing is done to protect us from the constant threat under which we live?
Our enemies have perverted and distorted what could be a peaceful religion for most people who follow it. They have left the straight paths, and they delight in doing wrong. Their ways are devious, and evil.
The way to address these problems is simple, but in case we are confused, it can be of help to remember that God Himself has weighed in on this matter. In Proverbs 2:12-15, He suggests that it is wisdom what will save us:
“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.”