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Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2001 / 25 Tishrei, 5762

Michael Long

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The Jason Problem

Sometimes they only look dead. -- AT the end of every "Friday the 13th" movie, after the girl has been saved and after the killer, Jason Voorhees, is vanquished, the survivors celebrate. Everybody is sure that the crisis is over -- they have seen the body, after all -- and life is returning to normal. But just then, Jason comes roaring back into frame with a hatchet in his hand.

Our terrorist hunters should include the "Jason problem" in their plans.

After Osama bin Laden's head is separated from his body, and after his training camps have been reduced to little piles of gravel, we are going to be in sight of the end of a very long road. But the danger will not be past. Like a real-life Jason Voorhees, bin Laden has almost certainly made plans to strike from beyond the grave. Terrorist cells "sleeping" in the U.S. and elsewhere could swing into a bloody plan of action upon either his death or the cessation of hostilities. The continuation of his plans does not depend on the continuation of his life.

Consider this quote from February 22, 1998: "We… call on every Muslim… to kill the Americans…. We also call [for raids] on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them." He is absolutely committed-and unlike the fantasists at the U.N. who scold us for going after more than the man himself, Osama bin Laden is a realist whose goal is to destroy his opponents root and branch. "[Killing] the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim," bin Laden said. And that means doing whatever it takes. Ten months later, he told Time magazine that "if I seek to acquire [nuclear, chemical and biological] weapons, I am carrying out a duty."

One can dig up "Kill America" quotes from bin Laden for hours and never run dry. His hatred his boundless, and his goals boil down to an ever-escalating crusade to acquire power, money and weapons. Logic is of little interest. He invokes the name of G-d every few sentences, and he dismisses murders of American innocents by calling them rough justice for various middle-eastern violence of the past century.

He is angry, determined, and powerful-and ultimately a coward who sends others on his bloody missions while he hides in the cave planning the next guy's "suicide." It would be the height of naïveté to imagine that he would allow the end of his own life to end the violence he has so patiently planned for us all.

The government asserts that our agents are on top of the terror problem, and the evidence is fairly convincing: Since September 11, there have been worldwide arrests numbering in the hundreds; about $24 million in assets associated with terrorists have been tracked down and frozen; and, most convincing of all, terrorists have been unable to pull off anything else. Our government is likely responsible for this success, though we can't know for sure because the feds telling how they did it would undercut the ongoing work. (This is a moment when character count -- you either believe George W. Bush or you don't. Note to the Left: Character not only counts, it is critical to the confidence of the nation in times of crisis.)

But bombs over Kabul don't solve the Jason problem. There is a nagging bit of political correctness -- a virus otherwise smartly smacked down in these days of seeing things clearly -- preventing us from giving serious and open consideration to putting under the microscope every alien of Arab descent now living here. If there is a Jason problem brewing, it is carried in some tiny percentage of evil people hiding among these good and kind individuals.

But civil libertarians would rather die in a cloud of chemical weaponry than hurt somebody's feelings. Too bad they underestimate how understanding people are, especially now, when lives are at stake. Even "Saturday Night Live" recently featured a sketch in which a black man declared his newfound affection for racial profiling -- especially for middle easterners in airports.

If I were of Arab descent, I would be frustrated by such delays, but I would understand. With so many aliens walking around freely in the United States-recall how a few freely walked onto airplanes and freely crashed them into buildings-we would be foolish to forego such caution.

It will not be enough to root out terror networks around the world, we have to find the cells hiding here. It's a big job, so we had better stop fretting about inconvenience and start protecting ourselves. The evil killer in the movie always strikes back from the grave, and Osama bin Laden is a lot smarter than a movie character.

And, unlike Jason, he is very, very real.

JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.


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09/07/01: The trailer-park taste of the public radio catalog
09/04/01: BRAVE NEW FREUD: Internet-based psychiatry may mean relief for those who have shunned treatment
08/17/01: First Amendment: Chickens home to roost
07/27/01: Dispatch From The Front: The Gun Control War
07/20/01: Summer song
07/03/01: It's a Wonderful Recount

© 2001, Michael Long