No matter where or how or by whom the Boston Bombers were radicalized, one of the important take-aways from the terrible terrorist attack is that the international militant Islamist movement is alive, kicking — and killing.
It’s time we wake up and smell the jihad.
The threat is bad and it’s getting worse. In fact, here’s a sordid sampling of foreign and domestic terrorist plots and attacks across the globe as reported by media outlets since just before the Boston bombing.
In Iraq, al-Qaeda has been on a tear since U.S. forces left. Among the recent carnage, two blasts killed four at a mosque, a suicide bomber vaporized more than 30 in a cafe and in one single day, another 60 Iraqis perished in 25 separate bombings.
Next door in Syria, al-Qaeda affiliates like al-Nusrah Front, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other assorted foreign militants (e.g., Chechen and Libyan) are battling the regime — and working to establish an Islamist state.
Spinning the globe to Afghanistan, the Taliban and al-Qaeda are hard at work shedding blood. The Taliban killed seven with a roadside bomb and cut off feet and hands of locals suspected of helping Coalition convoys as a warning to others — and a stark reminder that while foreign forces may be leaving, they’re not going anywhere.
Neighboring Pakistan remains one of the world’s most terror-afflicted countries. A female suicide bomber killed four while another eight bombings over 24 hours killed another 11.
In Africa, terrorists are raging as well. In Libya, the French embassy was blasted with a car bomb, killing two guards. In nearby Mali, three Chadian soldiers died as a result of an Islamist militant suicide bomber.
In Nigeria, fighting with Islamist militants resulted in the death of nearly 200. And across the continent in Somalia, al-Shabab killed at least 30 in a slew of attacks. Another bombing plot was foiled.
In Spain, the police nabbed al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb-linked operatives in advance of the Madrid marathon, while the Canadians foiled a plot to blow up a train running between New York and Toronto with support from al-Qaeda operatives located in Iran.
While far from a comprehensive compiling of terrorist activities, a back-of-the-envelope tally of the above says that (including Boston) in just about two weeks we’ve seen tens of plots/attacks in 10 countries on four continents, taking the lives of 300 to 400 people.
That’s terribly troubling, coming nearly 12 years after 9/11.
Closer to home, the Heritage Foundation estimates there have been more than 50 foiled, Islamist-based terror plots in the United States since 9/11, including the shoe and underwear bombers and Times Square plot.
(The number doesn’t include attacks like Ft. Hood, Little Rock and Boston.)
The fact is that the world is aflame with Islamist militancy, and we’re one of the targets in the crosshairs. Wishing away the terrorist threat we face at home or abroad won’t make it — poof — disappear.
The concern is that some believe we’re in a post-Osama bin Laden era. That’s factually correct, but we’re not in a post-terrorism or post-al-Qaeda period. Osama’s inspirational Islamist ideology of violence lives on. Letting our guard down to this reality would be a huge mistake.
-Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
First appeared in Boston Herald.