Based on what we’re learning about the plot, the cell, and how their plans were averted, National Review Online asked a group of experts: What’s the most important lesson we should take from the averted terrorist attack on Fort Dix?
There are three important lessons to learn about these six men. First, they seem to have taken to heart Abu Musab al-Suri’s advice to create a decentralized global Islamic resistance. Al-Suri — a key member of the al Qaeda leadership before his arrest last year — published a 1,600-page screed online in which he argued that every local jihad had failed, including those supported by al Qaeda, because jihadist groups had centralized control over their wars. The proper way to conduct a global guerrilla campaign, al-Suri argued, was to inspire men ideologically, give them training through the Internet, and then allow them to carry out attacks whenever and wherever they deemed appropriate. Al Qaeda’s leadership seems to have rejected this advice, and has spent the past two years attempting to bring local jihads under stricter, not looser, control. But Muslims around the world (including those who carried out the attacks in Madrid) have been inspired by al-Suri’s work.
Second, most of the men were Muslims (and Albanians) from the former Yugoslavia. While we may see our actions in this war-torn part of the world as one of our “good deeds,” in the jihadist conspiratorial vision of events, the U.S. was only involved in this conflict in order to kill Muslims. The intervention of foreign jihadis decisively turned the tide against the Serbs, not U.S. military action. It is also worth noting that extremist Islamic preachers have remained in Bosnia and Albania, winning converts to radical Islam and to jihadism.
Finally, the reports describe a video showing “ten young men” firing weapons, yet only six were arrested. This is not over.
— Mary Habeck is associate professor of strategic studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror.
Victor Davis Hanson
The Fort Dix arrests raise the same-old/same-old script.
X-numbers of jihadists are caught trying to plot assassination, or to attack an airliner, or to take out a mall. They all will deny it.
Someone like CAIR will jump in, perhaps with the ACLU, alleging improper this and that; and the public after privately sighing relief and a few guarded grumbles along the politically incorrect lines of “Who in the hell let these people in this country?” will return to its normal state of amnesia.
And as long as these plots are not successful — or for that matter others like the recent Saudi effort to blow up an oil field, or those uncovered in Britain promising more killing — then we can have our hot-house arguments over whether we are really in a “war against terror” as we put scare quotes on anything associated with the notion of an Islamic threat.
But, if just one time, one of these plots succeeds and reaches a magnitude of 9/11 then the media will revert to form — suddenly dropping the “Bush took away our civil liberties” for “Bush didn’t do enough to protect us.”
And then, of course, the irony of it all can be seen in the profile of the suspects: Islamic terrorists from the former Yugoslavia, on whose behalf the U.S. bombed a European Christian country; illegal aliens at a time when those who object to the immigration crisis are considered nativists; a former resident of Jordan, a country showered with U.S. aid. At some point, we see how insidious are the effect of Middle East ingratitude, and how the envy and hatred of that region permeates its expatriates, the more so the United States has tried to help them.
— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is author of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, among other books.
M. Zuhdi Jasser
News of the FBI’s arrests of six militant Islamists in New Jersey who plotted to kill our soldiers at Fort Dix was met yet again with the same tired responses of shock and dismissal from the mainstream media (MSM) and from major American Islamist organizations. An FBI agent poignantly noted that we “dodged another bullet.” The enemy is certainly rearming and germinating another cell somewhere. Rather than the same old tired minority politics, we in the Muslim community should be accepting the responsibility of cleaning our own house. More Muslims, more media, and more government officials should be noting that:
1) While most Muslims have never met militants like those arrested, Muslim organizations should understand that only Muslims hold the keys to the way to overwhelm and counter the ideology which fuels these radicals. Muslim organizations should be clamoring to expose and infiltrate the ideology and sources which drove these traitors to sprout their radical cell. We need an Islamic vaccine (the separation of spiritual Islam from political Islam) to the virus which afflicted these men. Until Muslim anti-Islamists can defeat Islamism (political Islam) as an ideology, we will not make any headway at preventing the germination of the next cell. We will only be left waiting, praying, for the FBI to help us, yet again, dodge the next bullet.
2) Will the FBI’s success here answer the question as to why we need to protect each and every citizen in America who practices the principle of “see something, say something” as the heroic video-store clerk (“John Doe”) did here? What if this “John Doe” had contrarily chosen to be silent due to a fear of litigation?
3) Will we continue to deny the fact that America is not exactly that far behind Europe in our susceptibility to homegrown terror cells?
— M. Zuhdi Jasser is the chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.
I draw two lessons. First, that immigrants seeking refuge in the West must be grilled for their attitudes toward our civilization, our religion, and politics. Whether it be Somali refugees in the United Kingdom, Algerian ones in France, or Balkan ones in the United States (remember the Salt Lake City shooter in February, as well as four of the current six accused terrorists), individuals given the privilege and benefits of a new life then with some regularity turn around and attack their adapted fellow citizens. This unacceptable pattern has to be scrutinized to prevent future such atrocities.
Second, mercifully, terrorists can be counted on to make dumb mistakes. I established an honorary “Stupid Terrorists Club” in 2005; its founding members gained entry with such acts as having returned to retrieve the deposit on a van they had used to blow up a building, not wearing a car seat belt while transporting terrorist gear, or ordering $3,300 (in American dollars) worth of airline-related goods with an overdrawn credit card. This new group of six joined the Club by dint of its sending a jihadi DVD to a store be copied commercially and choosing as its target Fort Dix, a hardened military installation (among other components, it includes a prison).
— Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures.
Four of the Fort Dix plotters are in the United States because of America's support for the jihad of the Kosovo Albanian Muslims. They are among those who have taken advantage of American officialdom's refusal to consider the implications of the flow of jihadists from Afghanistan and elsewhere into the Balkans in the 1990s, and of the ideological affinity between the Kosovar jihadists and jihadists elsewhere. While the U.S. supported the Kosovo jihad, it was infiltrated and ultimately co-opted by al Qaeda; after that, members and supporters of the jihadist Kosovo Liberation Army were allowed to enter this country with little or no scrutiny.
The Fort Dix episode thus illustrates how foolish it is for the U.S. to assume that it can ally with jihadists, or at very least use them in order to defeat enemies who are perceived as being a more urgent immediate threat. By concluding such alliances America will never win, in any significant numbers, hearts and minds away from the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism, which ultimately views all non-Muslims as to be converted to Islam, subjugated as inferiors, or killed. The Fort Dix plot is just the latest illustration of how seriously jihadists take that imperative.
— Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of The Truth About Muhammad.