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“Some were convinced that this unknown force, which nothing could control and which would seeming carry on indefinitely by its own acquired momentum, could but lead to a final disintegration of the social fabric throughout the civilized world. Many, indeed, regarded it as the work of the Devil himself.”

-Alexis de Tocqueville

Begin reading at part I to learn about how the history and religion of the Middle East shaped the first modern acts of terrorism, jump to part II to learn how globalization’s technological and cultural implications have influenced this new miasma of terror, or skip to part III to learn about about the still-evolving relationship between terrorism and asymmetric warfare and what it means for America.

part I – fear and faith
Terrorism, as we think of it now, immediately summons images of the collapsed buildings, bombed-out buses, and deathly brown eyes leering through slitted masks. But these memories disguise the rational nature of the complex forces that coalesce as the deaths of innocents. And they do nothing to trace out the deep and inescapable historical roots of every explosion…

the first death
He was a remarkable man in many ways, but one of his friends noted that the most remarkable thing about him was “his apparent pleasure in learning about new languages, cultures, and peoples, then proceeding to blow them up…”

imperial hiccups
Be it in Birmingham, London, Baghdad, or in downtown Beirut – public buses often act as giant motorized canaries for the fumes of civil disorder and discontent…

to conquer nightstands
Because if you’re willing to take a somewhat poetic view of history, you’ll learn that the man we’ve come to know as Osama bin Ladin was born on Christmas Day…

bring it back
And depending on where you are in the country, you’ll frequently find beer-pong known by another name. In many colleges of the American northeast it’s called “Beirut,” although you’d be hard pressed to find a participant who’s able to tell you why that is…

dreamers of the day
That one man can change the way we think about ourselves and bring out boundless acts of grace and horror is born out again and again throughout history. During some point of each man’s life, they were considered crazy and on the fringe by established society. But they paid no attention to this…

peace be with y’all
One ancient, troubled, warswept city, host to all three Middle Eastern religions, has come to contain touchstones for Jews, Mohammad, and Christians alike. And its stones would become a Wall, a Dome, and a Temple in a place that has delineated not just the wholeness of peace – but the oneness of violence – as no single city ever has…

friday the thirteenth
Once this gyre, the first stirrings of Political Terrorism, began to swirl it would gain mass and grow in size, drawing in all American designs for the Middle East…

boondock salfists
And then, being a devout Muslim, after apologetically turning her away from your door and then watching her fall flat on her face in the ship’s plush hallway you’d probably think to yourself , “Hey look – it’s a drunk hooker…”


 

part II – illusions and immigrants
Pouncing on Murad the officers quickly restrained him, but not with handcuffs as most police would use. With clothesline – they’d all forgotten their handcuffs back at the station…

burning bright
And as incongruous as it seems, understanding the deaths caused by terrorist cells is not a matter of understanding their hate for the society around them. It’s a matter of understanding the love they have for each other…

pipe and dagger
But now, with the mass media creating a shared public eye that takes in much more than any one person on a sunlit street, and institutions and society complex and interwoven to an extent far beyond those more ancient times, death often weaves a much more complex web…

progaganda by deed
In simpler parlance: violent acts are necessary to first free the People from their manacling to false social assumptions both in terms of what is possible and what is Right. Violence opens their minds to new revolutionary ideas…

the frontline is everywhere
Robert Stethem’s body slapped against the pebbled macadam of Beirut’s International Airport as the engines of TWA Flight 847 were brought to a whirring stop by the dark Mediterranean air…

stabling lions
The caricature of an Arab terrorist – swarthy, sandy turban, clutching an AK-47, and possibly ululating on camelback riding to slay the infidel – proved both terrifyingly salient and dramatically inaccurate in the 1990′s and early 21st century…

to boil a frog
If you were to take the preceding passage for reality, you might stroll around a downtown European city swiveling your head – just waiting for a brown man to pop out from behind a Peugeot, yelling at you to ask where all the European women are at…


part III – warriors and walls
Despite popular support for the idea that the end of history is near and that our collective fate being all but decided, the end of our story is still a long way off. If anything our history is only horribly replaying itself on a world stage that is not growing more organized, but entropying into a clamor of fearful and increasingly desperate voices…

Ned and the Jeds
He became one of them, and as one of them would become able to lead them – both against foreign occupiers and against each other. Ned’s transformation was so complete that he soon gained a moniker that would become the name history remembers him by and that you know him by…

a Gatorade enema
John F. Kennedy didn’t really do much other than look pretty, Marilyn Monroe, and perhaps serve to symbolize the death of our national sense of innocence. But in 1961 John Fitzgerald Kennedy enacted an element of policy that’s often overlooked by the general public and geriatric academics alike…

between the heavens and the earth
You don’t want to know about the men who crashed United Airlines flight 175 and American Airlines flight 77 into the World Trade Center Towers on the morning of September 11th. Really know about them. You don’t want to hear about their families. Or about what they were like when they were growing up, when they could still be called kids and not monsters…

remember, remember
When Malcolm told his eighth grade teacher he wanted to be a lawyer when he grew up the teacher responded that he needed to be realistic about being a nigger, and that being a lawyer wasn’t a realistic goal for a nigger. That maybe he should aspire to be a carpenter…

vilest deeds like poison weeds
Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech has been recited and memorized by generations of school children and is easily the most celebrated text of the Civil Rights era. But it was given at an event that presented an image of America that had been bought, one that was a lie…

heard a shot
Even though we cannot see these walls, we still must share his story. Because it is a story that will either save us from the brutal and merciless hatreds of our past, or cause us to be consumed by evils that have been tirelessly guarded by our own injustices…

America will never be destroyed from the the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

-Abraham Lincoln

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