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To Stop Terrorism, Think Like a Terrorist By: Micah Halpern
MicahHalpern.com | Wednesday, June 07, 2006

If you want to stop terrorism, you have to think like a terrorist. Not like a bureaucrat.

The Office of Homeland Security is a bureaucracy. Plain and simple. The decision to cut 40% off the anti-terrorism funds allocated to New York City, arguably the most famous city in the world, is a bureaucratic decision. No guts, no heart, no soul, not even any common sense went into the decision. It is a "just crunch the numbers and make a bureaucratic decision" decision. The same rules of bureaucracy are being applied in the decision that may cut 15% off of New York's bio-terror allocation.

Here is the problem. There are undoubtedly some great minds in the Office of Homeland Security, but not terrorist minds. And in the business of fighting terror, thinking like a bureaucrat is tantamount to thinking like a victim. And that is deadly. Literally, figuratively, deadly.

The people given the task of allocating Homeland Security funds used a simple calculus. They were told that the first target terrorists will hit will be national monuments. They were told that national monuments represent America and that's why they are the obvious choice for the next major attack or set of attacks against the United States.

The information is accurate. The thinking that goes along with the information is faulty.

Terrorist do not want to hit America, they want to hit AMERICA. Terrorists do not only want to hurt the West, they want their supporters and fellow Fundamentalists to know that they hurt the West. Hurt them bad. Hit them hard. They want the world to take notice.

What the men and women of Homeland Security do not understand is that the world notices what goes on in New York and in Washington and in Los Angeles - and cares about what happens there - much more than they notice or care about what happens in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the world of the terrorist, Charlotte is nowhere.

And while it is true that when you bean count, monument for monument, New York does not top the list, that is really not the point.

Terrorists do not just care about destroying any old monument or about inflicting terror on some we-don't-know-where-it-even-is wasteland. Terrorists do not target a location purely for the fear factor, not in the United States, not in Europe, not even in the Middle East. The primary objective in terrorist planning and targeting is value to the terrorist adherents.

How will the attack play back at home? What awe will it inspire throughout the Muslim world? Will new recruits swarm to the cause? Chillicothe and Toledo can relax, if people have never heard of a city, monuments or not, that city will never become a target.

That's why North Carolina is out. It might fit the bureaucratic calculus, but it does not fit the criteria of the terrorist calculus. Does it still need an anti-terror allocation? Certainly - but not against attack. North Carolina needs an allocation from Homeland Security because sleeper cells were discovered in Charlotte. North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, these states need human intel and analysis. Sleeper cells can be cultivated anywhere, but the cities in which the sleepers live will be attacked only by accident and human error. And the resources needed to flush out sleeper operatives are very different from the resources needed to prevent targeted attacks against monuments, the visible symbols of Western decadence.

In the minds of Americans Mount Rushmore is as mythic as it is large. But how many Americans even know where Mount Rushmore is? Were that same monument in New York it would be a target. In South Dakota the greatest threat to Mount Rushmore remains erosion.

The power of terrorists lies in the impact of their attack. Terrorists need their supporters to believe that the great Allah has reached out to strike at the core of the evil that seeks to corrupt Muslim beliefs and values. The people delegated to worry about our safety must understand what the terrorist knows to be true. Not to understand the true objectives of terror puts us all at unnecessary risk.

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Micah Halpern maintains The Micah Report.

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