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On Point

To Counter Domestic Terror Attacks, Selectively Arm Military Personnel


by Austin Bay
July 21, 2015

The genius of American federalism is at work, in this instance responding to an international threat our national government irresponsibly disregards.

Six state governors have done what the White House and Department of Defense should have done years ago. In the wake of the deadly July 16 terror attacks in Chattanooga, Tenn., governors in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas have authorized their respective National Guards to bear weapons in order to better protect themselves and their installations. Florida's governor is moving Guard recruiter offices into secured National Guard facilities.

Why? The Chattanooga terrorist, Mohammad Abdulazeez, launched his first attack on a recruitment office located in a strip mall. Then he attacked a Navy support center, murdering four Marines and a sailor before an armed policeman killed him.

Most recruiting stations are in civilian facilities, and they are soft targets. However, uniformed service members staff these soft targets, and they are unarmed.

Our terrorist enemies know it. Official Pentagon weapons policy is public knowledge. That policy is scandalous. Troops on Army posts remain unarmed, despite Maj. Nidal Hasan's November 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas. The Obama administration still cannot call that attack what it clearly was: a terror attack by an Islamist terrorist.

Competent governments arm soldiers assigned to hazardous duty stations. That's because competent governments take war seriously. The U.S. is still very much at war with radical Islamist terrorists.

The war's U.S. domestic front opened with the 1993 terror attack on the World Trade Center, though we didn't accept this reality until 9/11.

The Obama administration addresses the terror war with sporadic seriousness. However, it shies from confronting the terrorist threat to the domestic front.

In 2009, the Obama administration declared the Bush administration's global war on terror defunct. With one burst of polemic magic, the global war became an "overseas contingency operation." Poof. The war here was done.

Yet, terror attacks by radical Islamists were attempted in Detroit, New York and Portland, Ore. Hasan waged war in Texas, not in Iraq. Since 2009, including Chattanooga, there have been nine attacks on U.S. military personnel that could be classified as terror attacks.

Our terrorist enemies consider every single American serviceman and woman to be a legitimate target, no matter where our soldiers serve. The terrorist war on us is global.

Was Abdulazeez an Islamist terrorist? His anguished Arab immigrant parents say their son was depressed, took drugs. OK, he was a vulnerable soul. Friends say he changed after a 2014 visit to Jordan. Now that may lead somewhere. Other domestic Islamist terrorists had radical epiphanies in the Middle East. An FBI report saying Hasan's terror guide, the now deceased Anwar al-Awlaki, influenced Abdulazeez via recorded Internet rants is even more incriminating.

In 2009, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies published "Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K." Islamist terrorists were defined as "homegrown" if they had "spent a significant portion of their formative years in the West" or their radicalization had Western connections. The study identified "behavioral changes" that characterize radicalization. Trusting "the interpretations of a select and ideologically rigid set of religious authorities" (like Awlaki) is one.

No reasonable person can doubt that Abdulazeez launched a terror attack on U.S. military personnel on U.S. soil -- so he is a terrorist. If we confirm his infatuation with violent Islamism, then reasonable people ought to conclude he conducted an Islamist-inspired attack.

Terrorists like Abdulazeez will continue to try to kill U.S. military personnel serving on the domestic front. For the foreseeable future, recruiters need to carry sidearms. Officers and senior NCOs should be allowed to selectively carry sidearms on military installations. To do otherwise is folly.

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