EDITORIAL: Islamic State's threat to America is a real one
Call it ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State. By any name it is deadly, and America is in its sights.
The murder of James Foley was — or should have been — a wake-up call for those who have, despite the murders of thousands on Sept. 11, 2001, been lulled into a false sense of security.
These fanatic, brutal killers have an equally false sense of grandeur, but they are dangerous to anyone who doesn’t kowtow to their perverted interpretation of their religion.
One thing is for certain, whatever intelligence the United States acquired about this group that led President Obama to dismiss the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant as a “JV,” or junior varsity, terror group was as lacking as anything that allowed the sneak jetliner attacks on American soil nearly 13 years ago.
People who think you can reason with ISIL leaders, come up with a compromise are showing ignorance of reality. The only compromise in their eyes is to acquiesce and convert religion and government to forms that they demand. Anyone who resists has committed a capital offense in their eyes.
For more than a decade, al-Qaeda, which pulled off the attacks that killed more than 3,000 innocent people, has been seen as the worst of the terrorist organizations. U.S. officials now say ISIL has replaced them in that position.
“They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon last week. “They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of … military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.”
ISIL is also proving itself adept at social media. There was no mistake that the murderer of Foley, who the U.S. military attempted to rescue along with other hostages being held by ISIL, spoke with a British accent. It was signal to those in the West who might share their hatred that they are already among them. One thing we know about terrorists is they have patience and make preparation. It would not be a surprise to learn that secret cells of ISIL already are in Europe, Britain and even here in the United States, waiting for orders in their unholy war against the West.
So far, America’s involvement against ISIL has been restricted to airstrikes and limited efforts such as the failed hostage rescue this summer. A war-weary America, having lost thousands of lives and having spent billions of dollars in a decade of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, is resistant to any deeper involvement.
Unfortunately, our enemies are banking on that, believing our freedoms have made us weak and soft. ISIL terrorists, we believe, truly feel they one day will waltz into Washington, D.C., beheading those that will not bow to them, and raise their flag symbolizing the enslavement of body and spirit over the White House.
We cannot afford to continue to underestimate these killers, and we cannot afford to look the other way and pretend they do not exist. America must respond and it must respond in a way that will end the threat.