Are the increasing incidents of terrorist attacks in Europe the "new normal"? Must Europeans and Americans become resigned to the inevitability of regular jihadist assaults? Must we endure more meaningless bromides about not "overreacting" because we might offend the world's 1.6 billion Muslims, playing into the hands of terrorists who promote the notion that the "Christian" West is at war with Islam?
Following the Brussels bombings, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens noted his country has a law banning police raids on private homes between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. This is not a joke. Authorities think the mastermind behind last November's terrorist attack in Paris, which killed 130 people, might have been holed up for at least two nights in Brussels and could have escaped because of this indefensible law.
The jihadists have no laws controlling their behavior.
It is the same with America's "rules of engagement" in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Does our restraint hold back the killers? Do we get points from extremists for trying not to kill women and children, when they make no distinction about age or gender while carrying out their heinous acts? Are we converting any of them to our way of life? Hardly. It is more likely they are encouraged by what they regard as our weakness.
Osama bin Laden revealed what he and many radical Muslims believe about American weakness in a 1998 interview with John Miller of ABC News: "We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage cold wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia."
He added that jihad is a "form of worship" and "We do not worry about Americans' opinion, or the fact they place a price on our heads. As Muslims, we believe our fate is set. Even if the whole world decides to get together and kill us before our time has come, we will not die."
This week in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Lanham, Maryland, President Obama and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan are expected to open the largest American mosque in the world. According to the mosque's website, the $100 million Turkish-American Culture and Civilization Center "was built with Turkish funding under the supervision of the Turkish religious foundation (Diyanet)."
In Northern Virginia there is also a large mosque named Dar al-Hijrah, which some have accused of serving as a Hamas front. It was the home of the terrorist spiritual leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was accused of mentoring two of the 9-11 hijackers.
What a perfect setup for a jihadist pincer movement on the nation's capital from Maryland and Virginia.
Also worth remembering is a statement by Turkish President Erdogan: "There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that's it." Why would we not take seriously statements by bin Laden and Erdogan? Denying symptoms and refusing to see a doctor does not make an ailment disappear. Neither does denying the terrorist threat diminish the threat.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote this following the attacks in Brussels, "We are at war with Islamist extremism. We need a different rhythm of thought in respect of it; preparing for a conflict that is longer than anything we have seen in modern times."
There is still time for the U.S. to turn things around, less so in Europe. But we had better be serious about our efforts and respond as we have to other threats in the past. History and current events prove jihadists are serious.
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.