Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2003 / 1 Adar I, 5763
A calm that causes concern
Scotland Yard tells me (no kidding) that the legendary police agency will neither confirm nor deny an Australian newspaper report saying that "chemical warfare protection suits" were discovered during the recent police raid on London's notorious Finsbury Park mosque, home pulpit to terrorist-imam Abu Hamza. According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, Scotland Yard and MI5 detectives decided to withhold the discovery of these nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) suits -- attire not usually associated with even the most exotic religious services -- fearing it "would spark panic."
True report or false? Scotland Yard officials are "not prepared to discuss" the matter, which pretty much confirms a hot little story that has gotten the cold shoulder in Great Britain and beyond. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that more reporting on what they really found in the mosque -- besides the stun gun, the imitation rifle, the gas canister and all the fake IDs -- would cause an honest-to-goodness panic. This is not to say that perfectly normal cases of the jitters wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- break out. Still, as recent events make clear, "panic" isn't the worst fate citizens of the free world now grapple with.
In past days and weeks, there was the British raid on a north London flat, a hideaway for the deadly toxin ricin, that left one British police detective stabbed to death and, later, as many as a dozen Islamic militants under arrest; there was the dark-of-night Spanish sweep through Catalonia that netted explosives, two barrels of as-yet unnamed chemicals, and 16 mostly Algerian Islamic militants, who, according to reports, were not just planning a terrorist attack, but were poised to stage one. There was also a lucky break last week in Italy, where police picked up five Moroccans squatting in an abandoned farmhouse near Venice after finding a couple pounds of explosives hidden, as the London Telegraph rather vividly reported, "in a sock amongst dirty underwear in a chest of drawers in the kitchen." A subsequent raid on a makeshift mosque in Verona uncovered papers and maps marking the site of the local cathedral and NATO installation.
While Europe has been spared the death and devastation of jihad that struck the United States 16 months ago -- and which strikes Israel continuously -- close calls in the EU are getting closer, and closer together. Panic, then, is the least of Europe's problems -- or ours. Indeed, a good shot of panic could be the salvation of the Western world.
I say this amidst a surreal, almost strangling wave of complacency that has swept some of us -- France, leading Democrats, The New York Times -- into a never-never land of unbreachable security where we have unlimited time to debate and inspect; prepare and parley; bicker, march and wait. Unfortunately, this land doesn't exist.
In his momentous and memorable State of the Union address, President Bush laid out the Iraqi threat, which includes vast and unaccounted-for stores of anthrax, botulinum toxin and assorted nerve gases (and the rocket-power required for delivery), and explained the need to defend the peace. As Mr. Bush put it, "A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all."
He's right. It is no peace at all, and it's no future at all -- although it happens very much to be our present. There is tunnel vision on the Iraqi inspection process, but not on actual Iraqi disarmament; "making the case" (as though President Bush were lawyer-in-chief) is starting to seem more important than bringing the terror regime -- and the ever-morphing terror networks that ring and overlap that regime -- to a defanged state of harmlessness.
Which brings us to another modern mystery: why so many deny the link between the war on Iraq and the war on Islamic terrorism, even as these same people will always predict the one will exacerbate the other?
We may never nab a swab of bin Laden DNA off Saddam Hussein's best china teacup -- although who knows what lies within those presidential palaces -- but we can still connect Iraq to the Islamic terror networks, including Al Qaeda. The mounting evidence now includes Abu Massab Zarqawi, an Al Qaeda weapons expert believed to have masterminded the London ricin plot and the assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan last fall. Both these incidents came after the Al Qaeda terrorist's medical sojourn in Baghdad, where he was patched up after being badly wounded in the war in Afghanistan. The New York Post reports that the one-legged Jordanian is the man President Bush had in mind this week in warning the nation against a "day of horror like none we have ever known" should Saddam Hussein remain free to supply terrorists from his chemical and biological stockpile.
Will this news spark panic? At the very least, it should boost some pulse rates -- a condition vital to continued survival.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
01/27/03: Playing politics with a T-shirt mentality
01/21/03: When understanding the East means losing the West
01/13/03: Is a war on Jews a war on democracy?
01/06/03: Bush must take a stand on affirmative action
12/30/02: Questions for reflection on 2002
12/16/02: The pre-emptive war goes Hollywood
12/09/02: Protest Augusta? Why not Sudan?
11/25/02: Something to contemplate this Ramadan
11/08/02: Does Eminem now fit in?
11/04/02: No time for gloating
11/04/02: What's in a name when the name is Muhammad?
10/28/02: Jihad as a First Amendment right
10/21/02: When speaking out isn't allowed
10/14/02: Terrorism in Maryland and abroad
09/30/02: So long urgency, hello indulgence
09/24/02: That one, sturdy, missing word
09/17/02: Fingerprinting, finally
09/09/02: When 'healing' overshadows reality
09/04/02: Tales from the Techno Valley and Forest
08/16/02: Elvis shall rise again
08/14/02: War with Iraq won't harm war on terror
08/06/02: Clinton snaps over Somalia
08/01/02: 9-11 anniversary shouldn't come with apology
07/27/02: An unstable common ground
07/25/02: Hillary fights hard for soft money
07/12/02: Goretheus unbound
07/10/02: Rosie takes a shine to Republicans
07/08/02: Are you still shocked, Sami?
07/02/02: Can Britney win hearts of the Middle East?
06/28/02: A war on terror or Islamists?
06/25/02: Blame the murderer, and the messenger
06/21/02: Up front and personal with Atta
06/18/02: Terrorism at the United Nations
06/11/02: Who's policing the INS?
06/07/02: Spa Gitmo
06/04/02: Can rock gods save the queen?
05/31/02: Hillary's war
05/29/02: Have you forgotten we're at war?
05/24/02: An antiquated luxury of the past
05/21/02: From terrorists to tourists
05/19/02: Hate U.
05/07/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
05/03/02: Pioneering television
05/01/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
04/29/02: It's the misconduct, stupid
04/24/02: Medal of diss-honor
04/17/02: Holy sanctuary or terrorist shield?
04/12/02: Egyptian clerics solicit martyrs for murder
04/09/02: Defining terrorism down
04/05/02: The Wilder life
04/02/02: Acting, equality and the Academy
03/31/02: Speeding to conclusions
03/25/02: Hard to remove blood (libel) stains
03/21/02: The tale of Nixon's tapes --- again
03/19/02: The Big Lie lives on
03/15/02: The tunnel vision of '9/11'
03/13/02: The American Auschwitz?
03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was
not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...
© 2001, Diana West