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The First and Hopefully Final War of the 21st Century

by Mac McIntyre

On November 22, 1963 I was attending elementary school in central Illinois.  It was my younger brother's birthday.  I was walking down a flight of stairs and a friend approached me.

"President Kennedy has been shot," he said.

I denied it.  He may have been shot but it must have been in the arm or something.  It couldn't be that bad.  As the day progressed my denial proved ineffective and, of course, inaccurate.

On September 11, 2001 I had just climbed into my truck.  I was headed for work.  I turned my radio on to "the Score," a sports talk-show station in Chicago.  Dan Rather was speaking.  I knew something was wrong. Within minutes I had to pull over to the side of the road because I could no longer focus on driving.  Reality can be numbing.

How can any human being(s) plan and execute a decision to destroy lives of people whose only mistake was to go to work on a normal Tuesday morning? How could anyone become so distorted, so warped, so insane that they could participate in such a horrendous attack on humanity itself?  How could anyone be so feeble-minded that they would allow themselves to be brainwashed into committing suicide so they could be a weapon of mass destruction?

How could anyone believe that such actions would be rewarded by God?

Praise be to God...  ...and peace be upon our Prophet, Muhammad Bin-'Abdallah, who said I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but God is worshipped, God who put my livelihood under the shadow of my spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my orders....

...The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God."

This is in addition to the words of Almighty God "And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill- treated (and oppressed) -- women and children, whose cry is 'Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!'"

We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson...

-- Osama bin Laden, Feb. 23, 1998

If the Christian religion can be used as a cloak for the justification of the ignorant, evil acts of people like Jim Jones and David Koresh then it is feasible to believe that the religion of Islam, or any other religion or philosophy, can be used as a cloak to hide the evil of the likes of Osama bin Laden.  How people like these individuals can brainwash others into joining their madness is beyond me, but then again, I have tried to use denial in the past.

Where are the clergy of the Islam religion who have the courage to not only renounce the terrorist attacks but also the men, specifically, like bin Laden who promote such evil?  Why are their voices not being heard telling Muslims around the world that it is bin Laden who is evil and that his message is NOT from God nor the religion of Islam?

How can the three major religions (Christian, Islam, Judaism) that each have their roots beginning with Abraham allow dogmatic theological differences between "the family" become justification for the hatred and violence that have lead us over the brink of war?

God created life. He has spent an eternity, to date, in sustaining life.  God, then, must believe that life is good and that it should be cherished.  War and violence, then, in any form and for any reason, is not of God.

War is a human institution.  The hope for humanity is that we someday mature together as the human race beyond the need and desire for war and violence.  But we are not there yet and until we are then there is justification for war as an act of self defense.  Those who are as twisted as Osama bin Laden must never believe that they can use the fear of terror to promote their agenda. 

The people who were behind the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington knew that the United States would have no other choice than to retaliate.   We must be prepared for more deadly attacks.  The terrorist groups involved, in a most cowardly manner, declared war on the civilized world.

"We will go after that group [led by Osama bin Laden], that network and those who have harbored, supported and aided that network, to rip that network up. And when we are through with that network, we will continue with a global assault against terrorism in general."

-- United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, Sept. 13, 2001

The so-called First War of the 21st Century began, in my memory, in the 1960s.  Sick individuals would promote their "fight with THE establishment" by bombing public buildings.  It grew in the 70s and 80s with the taking of hostages.  But let us not be fooled by marketing slogans.  This is a World War.  It is not a war fought from this side for revenge.  It must be fought for self defense.

When the United States (and allies) armed forces get bin Laden, terrorism will not stop.  All countries, all governments, all people who value life and the future of their children and grandchildren must form an alliance to eradicate terrorism from the face of the earth.  There cannot be a neutral stance in this war.  Terrorism cannot be tolerated, condoned, harbored or ignored.  Wherever it is ignored it will grow.

This war cannot stop with bin Laden, or with the extremist groups who hide behind and bring shame to Islam -- it must remove the terrorists in Spain, Ireland, Japan, etc., etc., etc., -- including the United States.  Terrorism is not exclusive to the Islamic countries.  Remember Oklahoma City?

...Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with life. They are the names of people who faced death and in their last moments called home to say, be brave and I love you...

...Our purpose as a nation is firm, yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there's a searching and an honesty. At St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, on Tuesday, a woman said, "I pray to God to give us a sign that he's still here."

Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing.

God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own, yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral are known and heard and understood...

-- United States President George W. Bush, Sept. 14, 2001

It is easy, in tragic times such as these, to give up on humanity and even on God.  Where are His signs?  How could He have allowed this to happen?  How could we do this to each other?

God gave us the gift of life. He also gave us the gift of free will.  While there are those who would abuse such gifts by choosing evil and destruction we must remember that there are many who choose goodness, kindness and a selfless commitment to the highest honor of duty -- the preservation of the precious gift of life.

Within the dark, thick clouds of horror that followed the destruction of the World Trade Center, the signs from God did shine brightly.  They were the police officers, the firemen, the rescue workers and the surviving victims who chose not to run from the terror before them.  They chose to stay or go in harm's way to help others survive.  In brilliant contrast to those who wasted their lives to bring death to others they offered their lives so that others might live.  This is the ultimate sacrifice.

May the governments who know there are terrorists in their midst put the safety and welfare of their people ahead of the agendas of hatred.  May all nations cooperate in bringing those responsible for the tragedy of September 11, 2001 to justice.  May the victory of the terrible war to come be the eradication of terrorism from the face of the earth.  May God bless humanity.

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