Denial or The-Nile? (Often pronounced De-Nile) Psychologists often advise that it is the same thing; just a play on words. The Nile is the longest river in the world, granting life and power to all that surround the banks. The supremacy of this river was evident to all of the ancient people. Just as this river's power was evident to the ancient people, De-Nile existed when the power of the Pharaoh was collapsing. Both were evident, but one did not want to acknowledge the reality of the nearing end. Regardless of acknowledgement, the pharaohs' power ended. The kings of Egypt were not exempt from the snare of De-Nile.
Is the American public in the same category when it comes to a like Beslan attack occurring in the United States? Can we, as a society afford De-Nile? Let's take a look at current trends regarding mass violence, specifically focusing on our children occurring in the United States.
Columbine, the Amish School Shooting, Virginia Tech! These are just some of the most popularized school massacres. However, these acts of terrorism were all done by amateurs. The Beslan Massacre was conducted by trained Chechens terrorists who yielded over 390 people dead, and over 780 injured. Without being redundant and restating all of the facts of Beslan, I think it important that a few key points are highlighted.
The terrorist motive was to confront the domination of the Russian government over Chechnya. They meticulously picked a school in a quiet town and utilized the larger students to fortify their position, after which they killed them. They brutally raped and tortured girls. Russian Military Special Forces engaged the terrorist and they themselves suffered casualties. The stand off lasted for three days. The event will be embedded in history for lifetimes.
Bringing it in perspective, we know that the United States and its allies are in a global war on terrorism with Muslim radicals. Terrorist strikes are on the global increase. The terrorist motivation for conducting these acts of aggression, by their own words, is jihad - a religious war. Our brave soldiers have discovered school floor plans for schools in Virginia, Texas and New Jersey in Iraq. Furthermore, Bin Laden has promised that a like Beslan will happen to the U.S. many times over.
We also know that al Qaeda often launches five simultaneous terrorist attacks. This is a redundancy effort in which they believe only three of the five will actually take effect. We know the effects of September 11, 2001, to our country both morally and economically. However, imagine the effects of three Beslan style attacks being simultaneously conducted in the United States. This type of attack would shake America to the core. America's children, their prize possession, would be desecrated.
Current global events highlight terrorist sponsored countries. Being epigrammatic I will focus on one of these countries, Iran. The government promotes radical Islamic ideology and despises western values. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has met with Hezbollah leader Hassa Nasrallah. Hezbollah receives approximately $100 million annually from Iran for funding. Iran has also supplied Hezbollah with a variety of military grade weapons, ranging from small arms to sophisticated explosives. Hezbollah's terrorist activity is highlighted below:
- 1983 Truck bomb killed 63 people at the United States Embassy in Beirut.
- 1983 241 United States Service men were killed in a Beirut airport by a suicide truck bomb attack.
- 1984 The northeast annex to the United States Embassy in Beirut was subject to a truck bomb killing 24 people.
- 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists.
- 1992 Bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Argentina resulted to 29 killed.
- 1994 Bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aries, killing 85 people.
- 1996 Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 19 United States soldiers were killed due to a truck bomb.
In 2003, the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed the existence of a Middle Eastern organization in Chicago that had narco-terrorism ties to Hezbollah. The dismantling of this organization led to arrests in states such as Michigan, Arizona and California. Iran is one of many contributors to Hezbollah. Hezbollah is just one terrorist organization that is against western values and has demonstrated their violence. The terrorist of Beslan were motivated by political beliefs. Modern terrorists are motivated by religious radicalism; a much more motivating principal, especially when it parlays into jihad. Jihad terrorism has no moral boundaries. To counteract the terrorists at Beslan, Russian Special Forces were called into action. Although many lives were lost, it was a learning experience for the world. Russia was the victim of this school massacre. The world should be its students.
It is evident that the threat exists, the means to execute an event such as Beslan on American soil is present, meaning radical terrorist organizations then why have America's communities overwhelmingly neglected to prepare? While the Nile River may not physically crossed continents, De-Nile has arrived on American soil. Prevention is the key to stopping this type of attack.
Building bridges between police and communities is the key. Prevention takes into account deterrence. Hardening America's schools, especially middle and elementary schools through School Resource Officers and community awareness is the best deterrence.
In 2004 United Kingdom experts gave presentations at Rutgers University on how law enforcement can work with communities to deter terrorism. Focal points for community and law enforcement included understanding the following about terrorist organizations. They remind the public that terrorists need:
- Places to live - Experience shows that these types of places are often rented on a short-term basis.
- To plan and prepare - Terrorist attacks around the world have involved a great deal of planning and preparation.
- Vehicles - Cars and trucks have been used to devastating effect in terrorist attacks around the world. Terrorists also need to move around. Car dealers or car rental agencies should pay particular attention to this.
- Money - Terrorists need money to live on and to fund their activities and often raise this by committing check and credit-card fraud. Individuals may create identities to set up bogus bank accounts and then acquire checkbooks to buy goods that are later returned to stores for cash refunds. Credit cards are also cloned and used to buy goods that can later be returned for cash or sold.
Additionally, supplies for making terrorist weapons are often obtained within the country. The London bombing is a global example of how terrorist utilized supplies from within England and utilized them against her citizens.
American law enforcement is fundamentally unprepared to counter a true terrorist attack once it's in the execution phase. From an equipment perspective, long guns, ballistic equipment, shields and helmets, are still a rarity to many patrol officers. The defending administrative excuses for not supplying these items are cost and public scrutiny. Although the active shooter is no longer a SWAT response but rather a patrol officer's, a Beslan type attack will inevitably rely on a SWAT response for a resolution. SWAT teams across the nation predominantly train for Hostage Rescue; however, once an event like this commences casualties will be inevitable.
Strategic and Tactical planning are paramount for a successful resolution. Law enforcement cannot be singled out as America's sole defenders, but rather, the key to preventing this type of attack is incorporating communities as the first responders in the prevention phase. A historic quote that is just as relevant in modern times as times of past is
Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.
This is a quote from the walls of the United States Holocausts Memorial from a survivor. Communities, law enforcement commanders and school officials, should embrace this true terrorist threat and not fall prey to De-Nile and create a unified front in preventing such a horrendous incident from staining America’s soil.