When the Los Angeles Board of Education closed all its schools Tuesday because of a terror threat, officials in New York City, which had received a similar threat, were contemptuous. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio characterized the threat as “so generic, so outlandish” that it was beneath serious notice. “It would be a huge disservice to our nation,” he declared, “to close down our school system.” New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton said “we cannot allow ourselves to raise levels of fear. Certainly raise levels of awareness. But this is not a credible threat.”
Fair enough. But there is enough of a credible threat in general to warrant taking every precaution. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California), said that the threat (which was initially reported, of course, as a generic “terrorist threat,” with no indication that it was Islamic,” lacked “the feel of the way the jihadists usually write.” He pointed out, according to the Los Angeles Times, that “the roughly 350-word message did not capitalize Allah in one instance, nor did it cite a Koranic verse. He said the elements of the threatened attack also seemed unlikely, such as the claim that it would involve 32 people with nerve gas.”
Sherman claimed that “there isn’t a person on the street who couldn’t have written this.” Smearing the flyover states with Hollywood insouciance, he added: “Everybody in Nebraska could have written this.” He even suggested that an “Islamophobe” wrote the threat: “I don’t know whether this was sent by a radical Islamic jihadist or somebody who had an anti-Islamic agenda or just a prankster.”
Maybe the threats did come from someone with “an anti-Islamic agenda or just a prankster.” But those with an “anti-Islamic agenda” don’t really need to work that hard. Islamic jihadis are doing a fine job of issuing threats all by themselves. In September 2014, the Islamic State issued a lengthy communiqué calling upon Muslims in the West to murder non-Muslims. It included the exhortation to “strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American, or from any of their allies.” It followed this up with a quotation from the Qur’an: “O you who have believed, take your precaution and [either] go forth in companies or go forth all together” (4:71).
The Islamic State exhortation continued:
If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him. Do not lack. Do not be contemptible. Let your slogan be, “May I not be saved if the cross worshipper and taghūt (ruler ruling by manmade laws) patron survives.”
Is a believer in the Muslim believer’s pious duty to “smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him” likely to have moral scruples over the prospect of attacking a school full of young Infidels?
Jihadis didn’t hesitate to do so in September 2004, when Muslims under the command of Chechen jihad leader Shamil Basayev took 1,300 hostages at a school in Beslan, a town in the Russian Republic of North Ossetia; ultimately the jihadists murdered well over 300 people.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, nonetheless criticized the Los Angeles schools closure, saying that although “it makes sense to err on the side of safety,” when “a closure like this takes place, unfortunately it will embolden others to try it again.” He does not appear to have discussed the fact that Islamic jihadis are quite obviously already emboldened.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, on the defensive, said: “I think it’s irresponsible…to criticize that decision at that point.” Referring obliquely to the San Bernardino jihad massacre, he added: “Southern California has been through a lot in the past few weeks. Should we put our children through the same thing?” He said that in view of the fact that the threat referred to “assault rifles and machine pistols,” Los Angeles officials had to be careful: “These are obviously things we take very seriously.”
One student, however, was as dismissive as de Blasio and Bratton: “I’m kinda tired of hearing all this ISIS. It’s annoying. I’ve got finals.” However, he did ultimately recognize that there was a real threat: “But I guess it’s good to take control. Better safe than sorry.”
Better safe than sorry indeed. The ridicule being directed Wednesday toward Los Angeles school and law enforcement officials is misplaced, and stems from the general desire among the political and media elites to downplay and deny the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. The elites will keep telling us there is no significant problem until the AK’s start firing and the bombs start going off. Then, of course, it will be time for them to switch gears and start publishing new stories about fears of an “anti-Muslim backlash.”
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