WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2015 — Alek Skarlatos, one of three Americans who foiled an Islamist attack aboard a Paris-bound train last August, earned a perfect score for his waltz on”Dancing with the Stars” Monday evening.
“France has had a tough year,” Skarlatos said after his performance. “My heart goes out to everybody in France.”
French authorities now say the mastermind of Friday’s attacks in Paris, which killed 129 and wounded 352, was planned by 27-year-old Abelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian living in the Brussels’ Molenbeek district, considered the jihadist recruiting capital of Europe.
Per capita, Belgium has provided the greatest number of jihadist fighters battling the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
In response to the U.S. and European air-war now raging against Islamic State forces in Syria, ISIS is taking the war to the West.
Unlike Al Qaeda, which prefers dramatic gestures, like its 9/11 attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center towers, ISIS acts on a smaller, more personal scale.
Its brand of terror (beheadings, torching prisoners, crucifixions, sex slavery) have a profound psychological effect, especially when these acts of barbarism are videotaped and posted on the World Wide Web.
ISIS fighters traveled to the French capital to wage war on civilians as they watched their national soccer team play, enjoyed fine French cuisine at Le Carillon restaurant and reveled in the head-pounding sounds of an American heavy-metal band from Palm Springs, California.
One terrorist who was turned away from the soccer event by police, made his way to a nearby McDonald’s fast-food restaurant and detonated his suicide vest.
The attacks of 9/11 were so huge in scale that more than a decade later it’s still hard to wrap one’s brain around the event.
On the other hand, who among us has trouble imagining being at a sporting event or a local restaurant or listening to live music as a small group of masked gunmen enter, open fire or detonate their explosive vests?
That is terror. Psychological terror.
ISIS, whose caliphate is comprised of more than one-third of Syria and a large swath of Iraq, has blown up a Russian airliner and carried out coordinated attacks in France.
With that in mind, ISIS has far surpassed al Qaeda’s nefarious accomplishments.
And ISIS says it are coming to America.
World leaders fear this up-close-and-personal brand of terrorism is more difficult for intelligence services to detect and foil.
That means the people at every sporting event (even exhibition), every restaurant (no matter its Zagat rating) and every rock band venue (no matter how obscure) are potential terror targets.
When Christopher Harper-Mercer shot nine people to death on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus in October, GOP presidential frontrunner Ben Carson sent the mainstream media into a tailspin with this observation:
“The shooter can only shoot one person at a time,” said Carson. “He cannot shoot a whole group of people. So the idea is [to] overwhelm him so not everybody gets killed.”
The New York Times was quick to react, saying Carson “blamed the inaction of the victims of the massacre… for their own fate.”
Carson wasn’t being cruel. In an age of constant, tearful emoting, Carson engaged in a little old-fashioned, masculine counsel, a fatherly commodity sorely lacking in our overly feminized nanny state.
In short, Carson said it’s time Americans stopped holding weepy, candlelight vigils and, instead, manned up in the face of rampaging evil.
The invertebrates at the Times would rather we sit idly by and wait for day-late-and-dollar-short, after-the-fact responders.
You know, the guys that draw chalk outlines around the dead.
And this brings us back to the three American heroes on that Paris-bound train.
The shooter boarded the train at jihad central in Brussels, Belgium, waiting until it crossed the border into France. That’s when he began firing his weapon, shattering windows and wounding a passenger in the neck.
“With that, Mr. [Spencer] Stone leaped up from his seat, ran at least 10 yards through the carriage and grabbed the gunman before he could fire any further shots,” said the London Daily Telegraph.
“At that point,” Alek Skarlotos told the Telegraph, “I showed up and grabbed the gun from him and basically started beating him in the head until he fell unconscious.”
These Americans define the term “first responder.”
The first battle with al Qaeda did not begin with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. The first battle was between American civilians aboard United Flight 93 and jihadist hijackers in the skies above Pennsylvania on 9/11.
“Are you ready?” asked software salesman Todd Morgan Beamer to a group attempting to retake the plane, “Okay, let’s roll.”
So, here’s the question: “Are you ready?”