BY ROBERT MORALES
Today marks the 13th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Like Pearl Harbor and other momentous events that have taken place in U.S. history, 9-11, as it is now called, will forever be remembered as a pivotal milestone.
Because we were caught off guard as a very trusting country on Sept. 11, 2001, 9-11 served to remind us that we were indeed not safe from outside forces, and that there were certain unsavory elements in far ends of the world that hated us and wanted to do us harm.
As we soon learned, the principal perpetrator was no big surprise -â€“ Osama bin Laden. His hands were dirty from his first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 that killed six people and injured thousands. His plan was to have one of the two towers fall onto the other and inflict mass casualties.
As we learned through around-the-clock news reporting, bin Laden was the chief of the terrorist group, al-Quaeda, a radical Muslim organization that aimed to take down the United States. At that time, news reports said that bin Laden and al-Quaeda were furious about U.S. having military bases in Saudi Arabia.
It was viewed by these followers as an affront that the imperialistic United States would insult the holy land of Arabia through the use of these air bases. We were the “infidels,â€ and we must be destroyed.
Weâ€™ll never know whether this was a primary motivating factor for bin Laden, but we do this — he and his extremist Muslim followers had a meticulous plan for the spectacular attacks in New York. Bin Laden, as the son of a wealthy Saudi family, financed the diabolical plan that killed about 2,600 persons in New York City alone.
Another 125 people were killed at the Pentagon and 40 were killed aboard United Flight 175 that crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania.
Weâ€™ve had plenty of time to digest what happened to us during these last 13 years, and weâ€™ve been fortunate that no other major terrorist plot has been hatched and has been successful to come to fruition. However, with the recent events that have taken place with the beheadings of two American journalists in Syria, once again, we have plenty of reason to think about what ghoulish plans this new terrorist group, ISIS, (the Islamic State) has in store for us.
Shortly after the 9-11 attacks, President George W. Bush said that Islam was a “peaceful religion.â€ He was partially correct. Islam is based (more or less) on five principles: (1) declaration of faith, (2) obligatory prayer at least five times a day, (3) compulsory tithing, (4) fasting during Ramadan, and (5) at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
According to a variety of sources, there are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. Some sources indicate that about 2.6 million Americans claim they are Muslim and abide by the tenets discussed above. These Muslims read the Quran, the main religious text of Islam.
ISIS (the group that is reigning terror upon Syria and Iraq and who beheaded two Americans recently) is certainly not following the traditional Islam teachings. Like al-Quaeda, ISIS has perverted Islam into a radical, extremist hybrid.
ISIS hides behind the veil of Islam, but the so-called Islam that ISIS practices is far removed from that of a peaceful religion.
In short, ISIS is a group of thugs that appear to delight in torture and instilling terror wherever they go. They have been successful in recruiting members from Western countries, including the U.S. and the U.K, primarily through their fairly sophisticated knowledge of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. ISIS has been successful in taking over rather substantial swaths of land in Iraq.
Just how dangerous is ISIS?
ISIS poses a much greater threat to the U.S. and western countries than bin Laden and al-Quaeda ever did. ISIS is extremely well-funded, primarily by their taking of oil fields in Iraq and through pilfering anything they want, including taking military equipment and vehicles from the Iraqis ranging in the millions of dollars. Another question that bothers many of us is why has there been no disavowal or renunciation of ISIS from American and other western Muslim leaders? Their silence is tantamount to tacit approval of ISIS.
ISIS must be stopped before it grows into a larger, perhaps even incurable cancer. The U.S., along with its allies, that should include Arab countries, should attack known ISIS targets and eradicate them. To many of us, this sounds reminiscent of having to fight yet another war. According to several polls released this week, about 70-percent of Americans appear willing for the U.S. to attack ISIS on a fairly grand scale.