An Attack on London is an Attack on America
July 1, 2005
The “multi-culturalism” of London and the broader European Union has become Bin Laden’s petri dish for breeding “Western” terrorists. This just goes to show that even the leader of the coalition of terrorist organizations understands this “war of ideas and flesh” better than those who hold the very beliefs that he fanatically fights to destroy. The bloody morning on July 7 reaffirms that one is not defined by where he was raised; he is not helplessly “brainwashed” by his environment; not trapped by a time and place in history. He is defined by the ideas that he believes to be true.
At rush hour an eighteen-year-old boy, with his entire life ahead of him, a thirty-year-old teacher at a primary school, husband to his expectant wife, father of an 8-month old little girl—with the help of at least one other person—mercilessly killed 55 innocent people and wounded up to 700 others who were on their ways to work during the morning rush hour. All three were friends who played on the same soccer team. All three were born and raised in Britain. All three became fanatical Muslims who sought out unsuspecting soft targets in Britain’s transportation system, and became fodder for their cause in this small battle in the War on Terror.
A Washington Post article boldly stated that, “Today, al Qaeda and its offshoots retain broader connections to London than to any other city in Europe, according to evidence from terrorist prosecutions.” The article went on to state that other horrific attacks—the September 11 conspiracy, Richard Reid’s failed shoe bomb slaughter, the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl—had connections to London groups. How does this happen? Europe, known (by some, not all) for its culture of open-mindedness, and tolerance for various cultures, lifestyles and beliefs, is also tolerant of clerics who preach jihad openly. The British people have confused tolerance with the notion that all ideas are created equal, even the ones that say Allah calls for the destruction of tolerance itself.
After the 9/11 massacre, 700 suspected Islamic militants were taken into custody between 2001 and 2004, but only 17 were convicted. The clerics continue to preach to those who are willing to listen. The acolytes are second generation Muslims, born into peaceful, nominally-Muslim families, or are those who never became assimilated Britons, even though Britain is their homeland. In fact, there are 16,000 British Muslims, and about 10,000 United Kingdom Muslims attended an extremist conference in 2003. (This is another indicator that being “American” or “British” necessitates more than merely being born within the borders.) Britain has adopted a policy of tolerance for exiled Islamic extremists and their sympathizers.(Out of the 39 groups that the State Department designated as terrorist organizations, only 23 of them are included on the British list of known terrorist organizations, although not all of them are radical Islamic groups.) They have chosen to set up a sophisticated monitoring system as their rather futile, after-the-fact policy, rather than instituting the no-nonsense preventative measures of intelligence gathering in tandem with law enforcement (which legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act allows).
These attacks were meant to send signals to the British people who are opposed to the Iraq War. The signals said, “You who oppose the Iraq War are correct and you must heed the warning and force your leaders to disassociate with President Bush and the Americans.” Those who oppose the Iraq War believe that it is something different than the War on Terrorism, which makes me ask the obvious: if Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism, why do terrorists try to bully the Coalition into pulling out of Iraq? The Iraq War is the main theater in this War on Terrorism. As Tony Blair beautifully stated last year, “If America were to pull up the drawbridge, retreat from its obligations and alliances abroad, the terrorists would attack the rest of us. They are not interested in America as America. They are interested in America as the most powerful actor in pursuit of beliefs they fear as much as we value them.” The British people, as well as the American people, must listen to those words and believe them. They are true.
We must mourn the loss of the innocent who died in the massacre in London, and we must not forget that it holds the same meaning as the Madrid bombings and the American bombings. Freedom of the West is at war with the opposite. If we do not maintain the moral clarity that we are in the right, if we cease to seek out and squelch the ideas of intolerance and venomous hatred wherever they exist, and if we or the British people start to give up and choose to appease the fanatical coalition of Islamic terrorists in any way, we will surrender ourselves to their victory.
When the British shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had the opportunity to speak for himself before the presiding judge gave his sentence, the terrorist said this, “I further admit my allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, to Islam and to the religion of Allah… I am at war with your country… As far as the sentence is concerned, it’s in your hand. Only really it is not even in your hand. It’s in Allah’s hand…” I will leave the reader with the response of Judge William Young, which will echo as we continue to fight the War on Terror, whether overtly in uniform, or in the simple and American ways we live our lives in the freedom-loving West.
Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive one with the other. That’s 80 years… The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need not go any further. This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.
You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.
We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.
So war talk is way out of line in this court. You’re a big fellow. But you’re not that big. You’re no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and he said “you’re no big deal.” You’re no big deal. What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.
And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.
It is for freedom’s sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price to preserve our freedoms.
Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.
The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.
See that flag, Mr. Reid? That’s the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.
Rebeccah Ramey is a recent graduate of Ashland University and the Ashbrook Scholar Program. She currently works in Washington, D.C.