In early August news broke of a plan to explode multiple passenger planes en route from Britain to the United States. This made the world painfully aware that Islamic terrorists have not abandoned their obsession with killing people and crippling Western economies.
But since 9/11, outside of Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been surprisingly few successful terrorist catastrophes in the world, and none on the scale of the nearly 3,000 deaths on 9/11. It's especially noteworthy that Islamic terrorists have been unable to wreak more death and destruction in America—to them "the great Satan"— the country they hate the most other than possibly Israel.
The world has become increasingly aware of how extremely vulnerable nearly every country is, especially the open free societies, to sabotage and mass murder. It is difficult to understand and defend against suicide bombers who glorify death instead of life.
Illegal immigrants, possibly including terrorists, easily cross the porous borders into the United States by the thousands. Potential killers lie their way through the legal immigration process. And as Britain in particular has seen, some terrorists are "home-grown" as well—usually young people whose minds have been methodically poisoned with hate.
What do almost all the terrorists have in common? They are Muslim extremists who justify killing non-Muslims ("infidels") based on certain passages in the Koran, passages they quote openly.
How did they get to be that way? Some were influenced by charismatic terrorist leaders. Many have been influenced by radical imams (religious leaders) preaching in mosques and Islamic schools, blaming all the world's evils and the flaws in their own cultures on non-Muslims. Many youngsters are fed a diet of victim-mentality and hate by school systems in their countries and, sadly, by their own parents.
What makes winning this war of ideas so difficult is that most Muslim countries and cultures do not allow non-Muslim influences or freedom of speech and religion in the territories they control.
At the same time, they take advantage of freedoms of speech and religion in Western cultures to foment the overthrow of those very same freedoms. And peace-loving Muslims seldom speak up for non-violence and cooperation. One obvious reason is that they fear for their own safety and that of their families.
Mainstream media downplays real dangers
In the United States and other Western countries we have seen very vocal, often irrational opposition to any type of profiling when it comes to dealing with terrorists and terrorist threats.
And when there are murderous attacks against non-Muslims, the press typically fails to mention or plays down the religion and nationality of the attackers. Instead the media typically labels them with such ambiguous terms as "militants," "insurgents," "separatists" and the like. One major international news agency has even gone so far as to ban the use of the word "terrorist" in its news reports.
Syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray recently commented on the media's lack of clarity and the outrage one would expect after two murderous attacks in the United States. On July 28, Naveed Haq forced his way into the Seattle Jewish Federation where he coldly and deliberately shot six women. He had traveled some distance from central Washington after finding "something Jewish" on the Internet for a target.
Moments after spraying his bullets, he announced, "I'm a Muslim-American; I'm angry at Israel!" That was his excuse for premeditated murder.
Even though it is sensational news, much of the mainstream media has largely ignored or played down this story. The New York Times and the The Washington Post each wrote only one article. What little coverage they did offer was buried on page 22 and page 13, respectively. Imagine the news coverage if a Jewish or Christian person had used religious justification to shoot innocent people!
This past March, recent college graduate Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar slammed a rented SUV into a crowd of students at the University of North Carolina, hitting nine. The Iranian-born 22-year-old told the 911 dispatcher that he was attempting to "punish the government of the United States for [its] actions around the world."
In court days later, he said he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah." That statement also received scant news coverage.
It's easy for a society to be half asleep instead of vigilant when the media downplays dangers. Instead of shouting an alarm, the press is pacifying the public with messages of appeasement and wishful thinking.
Why not more and larger attacks?
After 9/11, Westerners began to realize how vulnerable they are to this type of threat. Americans feared that they were about to see a continuous onslaught of terrorist attacks not unlike that suffered by Israel, but on a bigger scale.
Initially many Americans were deeply sobered, "got religion" or renewed their spiritual zeal. Church attendance shot up. But all that lasted just a few months. The terrible events of 9/11 soon faded into the background as life returned more or less to normal.
At first Americans were waiting for the other shoe to drop, seemingly holding their breath. But month after month went by, and then year after year with no devastating attacks. It has been baffling. People relished the relief and relaxed, but many have an eerie apprehension that disasters are coming sooner or later.
America and other nations have feverishly been reinventing and reinforcing their security measures. As a result, security strategies and intelligence gathering are relatively much better than before. But no one would give all the credit to their deterrent efforts.
Terrorists can choose among many kinds of weapons and strategies. The number of potential targets is countless. And terrorists know they only need to succeed once, whereas defenders have to succeed every time, all the time. It's nowhere near a level playing field.
The U.S. administration has seldom boasted about successfully thwarting terrorists because they know that another attack could happen anytime. It's hard to celebrate something that seems so fragile, temporary and doomed to disappear.
When intelligence experts speculate as to why there haven't been more attacks, most of their ideas are probably valid factors.
Quite a few plans and plots have been disrupted before they became operational due to the hard work of intelligence and law-enforcement agencies and seeming happenstance. Overseas, the more immediate concern of many Muslim extremists is to prevent Iraq and Afghanistan from becoming stable and permanent democracies.
Al-Qaeda has been disrupted, dispersed and weakened. Major decisions by al-Qaeda leaders may be prompted by pride in maintaining its reputation and mystique—preferring to wait until it can pull off spectacular attacks with maximum shock value rather than going ahead with easy attacks on soft targets.
But all the reasons and physical factors put together seem inadequate to explain how few successful major attacks have occurred in the past five years.
Are we experiencing God's protection?
There is another possibility that the secular press would naturally dismiss. It is that God may temporarily be giving us divine protection. God is real and He is omnipotent—all-powerful. If He chooses to protect people and nations, it is done. No human security measures remotely compare to the absolute safety God can provide.
Many religious people have assumed all along that God is the reason we haven't had more attacks. It's wonderful when people give God credit. We should be thanking Him profusely. But those same religious people often are making two other assumptions that are false.
One mistaken viewpoint is that the United States and other "Christian" nations deserve to have God's protection. In actuality, even though the majority of Americans claim they are Christian, their religion is superficial and mostly disconnected from the source of true Christianity—the Bible.
And their lifestyles on average differ very little from non-Christians. They experience almost as much promiscuity, adultery, divorce, dishonesty, raunchy choices for entertainment, indulgence in pornography, etc., as the nonreligious.
The other assumption concerns God's timing. The Bible contains many examples of when God made decisions to either bless or punish an individual or a nation, and then waited a long time—sometimes many years—before He executed that decision.
People tend to assume that because lightning doesn't immediately strike them, God evidently accepts or approves of what they are doing. The Bible declares that people will suffer consequences for their sins, but the consequences are often delayed (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Bible prophecy indicates that the United States and other Anglo-Saxon countries will suffer calamity, but only according to God's timing.
The Bible also provides clear examples that God gave nations temporary help and protection for His own reasons even though the inhabitants were not righteous or deserving. Those reasons had to do with God's long-range plans, promises and prophecies.
The gospel of the Kingdom must be preached
One highly significant prophecy given by Jesus Christ is this: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
God certainly appears to be holding back attempts to destroy the Western societies until that phase of His work of warning the world has been finished. God has been calling people to repentance mostly in the Western societies with a Christian heritage to provide the manpower and financing needed to carry out Christ's commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
When that work of preaching and publishing the true gospel has been sufficiently accomplished, Bible prophecy shows that God will withdraw His protection from even those countries whose people have had plenty of Bibles but have quit reading and living by them.
Jesus Christ's words in John 12:35 aptly apply today: "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you."
In the Bible, much space is devoted to end-time prophecies concerning the descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. And there is an abundance of evidence that in America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand reside the greater part of the latter-day Israelite people. With knowledge of the identity of "Israel" in the Bible, the Bible prophecies are highly enlightening about the future of these nations. GN