Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Pathology of Evil

The pathology of evil that crucified Christ two thousand years ago has mutated and taken a different seductive form in every generation. Since the attack on the World Trade Center complex in 2001, the evil of terrorism has lurked around every corner, under every rock, and behind every closed door.

Before 9/11, I pleaded with US leaders in high places to protect the World Trade Center. Why? I had been convinced for decades that it would be the target of the first attack on our soil. It wasn’t my analysis, but that of Isser Harel, head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence organization. We had dinner on September 12, 1979, and I asked him if terrorism would ever come to America. He replied that it would, and the target would be America’s tallest building. The failed attempt in 1993 to bring the towers down was a fulfillment of Harel’s prophecy. Since then, I have held numerous meetings with both US and Israeli leaders about the strategies terrorists use to achieve maximum damage, and what can be done to thwart such attacks.

Evil had mutated, and because of that mutation, the unthinkable happened again on Monday, April 15, when one or more terrorists struck at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It seems an unlikely target, and yet it did exactly what the perpetrator designed it to do: Kill the innocent, wreak havoc, and spread fear. Mission accomplished.

Now, law enforcement—FBI, ATF, Homeland Security—has been left with the task of trying to put the pieces together to determine who left at least two explosive devices planted at the finish line of the event.
Was it domestic terrorism? Was it international terrorism? Was it North Korea whose leader promised some kind of attack? Was it, as former CIA director James Woolsey told me in an interview several years ago, an Iranian-trained Hezbollah cell operating in the United States?

It has long been known that terrorists are crossing the border into the United States from Mexico and Canada, from where the 9/11 terrorists in large numbers entered the US. They seek only to inflict pain and retribution on “The Great Satan.”

On Tuesday, even President Obama used the “t” word when he said, “This was a heinous and cowardly act, and, given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. And anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror. What we don’t know yet is who carried out this attack—or why—whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization—foreign or domestic—or was the act of a malevolent individual.”

The FBI’s Boston Field Office Special Agent-in-Charge Richard DesLauriers vowed that investigators would go to the ends of the earth if necessary to find the individual or individuals responsible for the explosions in Boston. While no one has taken direct responsibility for Monday’s assault, the Pakistani Taliban was quick to deny any role in the bombings.

Of course, what we do know is that Iran has threatened that if the US continues to put pressure via sanctions and threats of an attack on its nuclear facilities, it would launch a wave of suicide bombers into the US. There is always the slim possibility there is a connection between Iran and one or more of its proxies and the heinous attack in Boston.

What terrorists of any ilk do not seem to comprehend is that while the act of terrorism struck fear in the hearts of some, others responded not by running away from the scene, but by running into the midst of the horror to help the wounded and dying. While evil may mutate and replicate, humanity multiplies and responds with heroic compassion.

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