Last week, experts fired back at the assertion by an unnamed senior State Department official that “The war on terror is over.” Yet, according to a Rasmussen poll released today, it’s not just the experts who disagree. According to a telephone survey conducted by the well-known polling company, 79 percent of likely U.S. voters think the war on terror is not yet won.
It’s good to see that while some Administration officials may have a skewed perspective, the vast majority of the American public has a firm grip on reality. Indeed, Osama bin Laden is now long since dead. Throughout the world, terrorist networks have been dismantled, their leadership decimated, and training camps dispersed. However, as Examiner columnist Cal Thomas aptly puts it, “Terrorism flows from a belief system and worldview that will not be crushed just because a few al Qaeda leaders are gone.”
Terrorists continue to seek to harm the United States and its people. Since 9/11, at least 50 publicly known Islamist-inspired terror plots have been foiled. With al-Qaeda now more decentralized, the terrorist network has instead turned to a greater dependence on its affiliates and allies and has taken a greater interest in homegrown terrorism (plots planned by American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized predominately in the United States). In fact, of the 50 thwarted terrorist plots since 9/11, 42 could be considered homegrown terror plots.
The worst thing the United States could do now is adopt an air of complacency. Combating the continued threat of terrorism requires not only continued reliance on existing counterterrorism and intelligence tools, such as the PATRIOT Act, but also enhancing cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities, as well as mutual trust and partnerships with Muslim communities throughout the United States.
The fact that the U.S. has not seen a large-scale successful attack since 9/11 truly points to the success of our counterterrorism systems. Future success, however, requires that the nation continue to remain vigilant.
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