Even in our backyard, our vigilance ensures our safety

The recent case of a local Islamic State sympathizer, the son of a Boston police captain, gives us all pause. Of course, terrorism is intended to scare us. That’s the way that ISIS and some of the other jihadist groups operate. It’s really a simple idea — take impressionable twentysomethings, give them a cause and encourage them to kill and maim. Sociopaths have no great concern about what they are doing. Potential victims can be found anywhere: airports, schools, kindergartens.

I find it fascinating that the Boston police captain had the backbone to turn in his son, Alexander Ciccolo, of Adams. I am sure that there are others with beloved children, who would not have had either the courage or the wisdom to do the same thing, no matter how heinous the child’s crime. Our media correctly reports every catastrophic event that is brought about by these mad men, yet when one of these potentially deadly actions fails, they are not covered with the same fervor or depth.

The reason this story is so critical is that important lessons are learned and the more people who learn these lessons, the better off our security. A parent who leads the way by alerting authorities is just one of these lesson-givers. Then there is the way that the miscreant was going to do it, using the same apparatus that was used in the Boston Marathon. He went to the Walmart and brought a pressure cooker.

I suppose that it would be naïve to think that everyone who bought a pressure is a potential terrorist. Nevertheless, a young man buying a pressure cooker who had other “tells,” his social media posts were sympathetic to ISIS, might be worth looking at or even reporting. Let us just remember the New York Police Department’s “If you see something, say something” campaign.

During World War II, President Roosevelt ordered Japanese citizens into internment camps. As we know, that was a disgraceful part of American history and in retrospect it has been roundly considered a major mistake. But now, the country is under attack and some of these people have the capacity to cause great harm to others. One dead person may leave behind children or grandchildren and future generations will be affected by these fools. Some people from the Boston Marathon attack will be walking around on one leg for the rest of their lives because of the massacre.

Since groups like ISIS and al-Qaida are not nation states and export terror through individual mental cases, it is hard to declare war on them. So we have to mobilize ourselves and that means paying attention, not only to our neighbors but to the Web sites used by these whack jobs. It is really unfortunate that it comes down to this. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t and shouldn’t be necessary. But when one considers the potential consequences, it is necessary and we need to be vigilant. The next victim could be you or someone you love.

On another subject, I wrote a piece a few weeks back in this space calling on the Great Barrington police to do a better job of stopping speeders in our neighborhood. All they have to do is sit on a side street and it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. But, alas, they haven’t done that.

I leave the house very, very early in the pitch dark. Because Great Barrington is still in a state of disrepair, I take the back way through Alford. Often, there is nobody on that road except for a policeman sitting there many mornings as I drive by at 20 mph. Now I wonder why our police are deployed on a road that no one ever takes at that hour, with the possible exception of you know who. Hm.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 7/18/15

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