Andrew McCarthy has an excellent column today on the fifteenth anniversary of the radical Islamist declaration of war against the United States. In one hour or so, exactly fifteen years will have passed since the first attack on the World Trade Center, a truck bomb that intended to demolish the symbol and home of American economic power. It would take eight more years for the terrorists to finish the job, but their intent was clear from the beginning:
Only a few weeks before the bombing, the blind sheikh, who had been in constant communication with his co-conspirators, had attracted a crowd of followers at a Brooklyn rally. “God has obliged us to perform jihad,” he thundered. “The battalions of Islam and its divisions must be in a state of continuous readiness . . . to hit their enemies with strength and power.”
The “enemies at the foremost of the work against Islam,” he declared, were “America and the allies.” For them, he had a warning:
If those who have the right [to have something] are terrorists then we are terrorists. And we welcome being terrorists. And we do not deny this charge to ourselves. And the Qur’an makes it among the means to perform jihad for the sake of Allah, which is to terrorize the enemies of God and our enemies too. . . . Then we must be terrorists and we must terrorize the enemies of Islam and frighten them and disturb them and shake the earth under their feet.
Radical Islam had sought an Armageddon for its declaration of war. But the paltry number of deaths, an absolute miracle under the circumstances, denied the jihadists the monstrous “victory” they’d hoped for. Simultaneously, it confirmed us in our determination to regard them as mere criminals.
That they would learn from their errors faster than we from ours is now clear.
McCarthy prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman and sent the “blind sheikh” and his cohorts to federal prisons for the rest of their lives. It did nothing to deter the terrorists. Indeed, as McCarthy points out, it motivated them to redouble their efforts to demolish the WTC or force us to capitulate to their demands.
WTC I was a failure, but what followed would not be. Unlike Americans, who calculate war success in minutes and days, radical Islamists calculate it in years. While we throw up our hands after a couple of weeks of tactical and strategic recalculation, al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain fixed on their mission.
After fifteen years, we should understand that the terrorists will not quit until we surrender. While they continue to make war on us, we cannot pretend that peace exists.