Terror has returned to flood the streets of New York. Same scene, same strategy in Barcelona, Nice, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen. A truck launched at full speed on uninhabited civilians, on innocent victims. A mini-September 11th in numbers, a mega-shock in an America that had almost forgotten what it means to have the enemy in their own cities. Eight deaths and dozens of wounded seem little when compared to thousands of deaths incinerated inside the World Trade Center sixteen years ago, but it is the changing horror and methodology of action that has been renewed.
Like a multinational corporation continually seeking new competitive products to market, terrorism has changed its tactics. Knowing they do not need airplane-bombs to slay death and panic in our cities, they use more common tools as a hammer, a screwdriver, a car or a truck, to achieve the same goal. It doesn’t stop there. Economically, even in this case similar to a real company, terror has chosen a low-cost policy, preferring continuous attacks and “low intensity” (that is, with the number killed), but hoping the long-term effect of the killings will mark the pages of history. Now, it costs less to train the attacker and takes less time to prepare the attack. Attack vehicles are rented for a few dollars, and in the type of terror it causes, you are able to commit a massacre with very little investment. It’s nearly impossible to prevent these type of attacks with millions of vehicles circulating an area like Manhattan.
The question we must ask is another. How can a city like New York, a symbolic place where terror changed history on that fateful day in September 2001, be so unprepared to face the new strategy of Islamic fundamentalism? Well, it is a question I’ve been trying to answer since yesterday, since the TV streams with bodies on the ground, with the abandoned bloody truck near Chambers Street. Indeed, it is a question I posed even weeks ago, while walking near my office along the Seventh Avenue, where I saw a river of people walking across the street, the crazy traffic of the Big Apple, but not one protective barrier aimed at preventing a hypothetical attack. Yet from 2006 to today, there have been 29 attacks just in Europe with this methodology, not to mention Israel, where the government has been counting on the low-tension strategy made in Hamas for decades. Or in Nigeria, where Boko Haram has sowed death with this technique for years and where, a few months ago, 420 protective barriers were installed in Lagos City, following my advice to the local government. So the signals were, indeed, too obvious, with the deaths of the Catalan Ramblas still on the front pages of Spanish newspapers. Inefficiency of the city government? Yes. Underestimating the enemy? Maybe. Illusion of living in a safe city? Probably.
But to be questioned today, on this day of mourning and reflection, there are not only the obvious holes in New York’s security that can be sanctioned by immediate implementation of strong decisions and policies that will likely end up infinite stupid debates between aesthetics and politically correct followers. There is not only a government program, the VISA Diversity Program, which has allowed the Uzbek terrorist to live in America to build a future in this free and democratic land, and then kill eight people in the name of diversity. But there is a whole societal concept to be put at least under observation. A multiculturalism that begins to surrender under the brink of Islamic terrorism; an impossible integration of fundamentalists who see in the democratic institutions and in America an enemy to be destroyed; a welcome-policy at all costs that gives and guarantees rights to everyone, but not much assurance to who the people are we so easily open our doors to.
We are living hard times and we know this. We are under attack and sometimes we refuse to admit it. But one thing I have learned in the past years in the fight against terror: there is no freedom, there is no democracy and there is no future in a society that refuses to defend itself from their enemy and face their fears.