We need a new definition for terrorism in America:
-The politically correct descriptors of “lone-wolf”, “self-radicalized”, and “homegrown” are outdated terms that are putting Americans at more risk right inside their own communities.
As a career Green Beret, I have been fighting terrorism my entire adult life, and serving with countless others who do the same. I knew that this shooting in California was Islamist violent extremists within minutes of the attack – I alluded to this in a tweet just minutes after it broke on the wire (Go to @dscottmann and check it out). But, I am not unique here. Anyone who has been fighting this threat more than a few days knew right away what this was…Islamist violent extremism taking root in America.
We know the female shooter, Tashfeen Malik, posted pledges to ISIS leader Baghdadi on Facebook. Now FBI officials are claiming that this is indeed a terror investigation. Fifteen years after the attacks of 9-11-2001 and in the midst of our longest war in history, it took us nearly three days to diagnose a terror attack in our own streets.
But even this recent declaration is not enough to act on these days.
In fact, many political leaders and some in the media, are quick to downplay that attack even now. They say that we are unsure if “ISIS actually ordered the attack.” Some law-enforcement officials equivocated the attack by calling it “self-radicalization”.
As if somehow these factors make it less threatening to our country.
Does anyone see something deeply wrong here? These two ‘home grown terrorists’ efficiently massacred 14 innocent civilians and wounded 21 more within minutes; they leave behind a remote controlled Explosive Device designed to create a secondary blast of carnage for first responders. Then they engaged police with.assault rifles while rolling in a high pursuit chase in an SUV. This is terrorism that is just as real and potentially threatening as the Paris attacks – maybe more. Here is why:
The old terror model of foreign fighters coming from parts unknown, training on monkey bars, and then launching into America with tourist visas from dark, foreign lairs has gone the way of Osama Bin Laden.
There is a new sheriff in town.
This old school al Qa’ida generation terrorist has been replaced with even more committed ideologues, consisting of many folks living right here in the U.S Some like the shooter Farook are U.S. citizens. But here is the rub.
They are radicalized, trained, and resourced through a powerful global network that is both virtual and physical – and in some cases local.
As a nation, we haven’t come close to accepting that reality, and if we don’t soon…it’s going to haunt us.
In fact, this use of inspired extremists from within our borders is the new face of strategic terrorism in America. It is how ISIS and yes, even the next generation of al Qa’ida, will conduct their hardest hitting and most relevant attacks against us.
But, don’t take my word for it. Listen to ISIS. They tell us this with complete clarity and perfect English, in their latest Nov 24th English speaking propaganda video entitled ‘No Respite.’
They brag about “goading us into dropping bombs that cost $250,000 while they mobilize surrogates to kill us with “50 cent bullets. I haven’t heard one responsible leader or analyst reference this ISIS declaration on TV since the attacks in San Bernardino occurred. We are not even to see our reality when our enemy tells us exactly what he intends to do
As a nation, we don’t realize how lucky we were in this incident.
I shudder when I think about what they were building in their apartment, and the bloody attacks that were to be. Their on-hand bomb making materials make these ‘lone wolf’ terrorists just as threatening to us as the 19 al Qa’ida Hijackers who trained in the Afghan tribal areas and then flew airplanes into our souls.
Ask any veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’ll tell you…when IEDs start going off in our shopping malls, street intersections, and schools like they did in Fallujah, Iraq in 2006, America will change forever.
What about the threats we don’t see? Are we seriously going to believe that this is the only terror factory of this kind in our country? Do we think that ISIS chose to make San Bernardino the strategic epicenter of bomb making in America? Hardly.
There are more.
But, instead of assessing and anticipating that reality, we continue to irresponsibly sew denial into our collective psyche.
They are here – and we had better get serious about dealing with them.
I only hope we don’t wait until that next horrific moment arrives to change our definition of what terrorism in America has already become.
Scott Mann is a former Green Beret Lieutenant Colonel and author of the best-selling book “Game Changers – Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremists.”