Gee, it’s a really good thing we can count on gun-free-zone signs to protect us in public places.

Why, otherwise we’d live in a country where a crazed man shouting the name of Allah and asking potential victims if they were Muslims could stab nine people in a shopping mall before he could be shot and killed by an armed firearms enthusiast.

Oh, wait — we do live in a country like that.

Once again, a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a weapon in a place where police were nowhere to be seen when a potentially deadly rampage took place.

The guy with the gun was an off-duty cop? Well, kind of. Jason Falconer reportedly works a shift every other month or so for a local department, but more importantly, he is an NRA-certified rifle instructor and competitive shooter who owns a range and training facility, Tactical Advantage LLC, which specializes in training concealed-carry permit holders.

It’s just like those unsavory NRA people to bring guns to places where they weren’t invited. The mall where Somali immigrant Dahir Adan decided to carve up some shoppers (including a 15-year-old girl) had a sign prohibiting firearms, but Falconer’s very part-time police status probably allowed it anyway.


Meanwhile, police shot and wounded Afghan native and naturalized citizen Ahmad Khan Rahami, who had planted bombs in New York and New Jersey (two exploded, wounding 29 people).

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said we were engaged in a “war of narratives” with jihadism, leading one wag to create this Churchillian-themed exhortation: “We will fight them in the subparagraphs, we will fight them in the clauses, we will fight them in the footnotes, and we will never surrender!”

But if Seaside Park, New Jersey, and St. Cloud, Minnesota, aren’t safe from terror attacks, neither are Portland, Maine, or Portsmouth, New Hampshire — or anywhere at all.

As analysts often note, terror “isn’t an enemy, it’s a tactic,” typically adopted by less powerful people or groups driven by fanaticism or hatred to attack more powerful individuals, institutions or nations.

The effectiveness of terror lies not so much in its decisiveness in producing immediate results (although the spark that brought all of Europe to ruin in World War I was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria by an anarchist in 1914) as it does in its ability to bring about a long-term attrition of the target’s will to resist.

It is a strike not against centers of power but against morale, using fear to reduce opposition to the terrorists’ agenda over a longer period of time.


Is it successful? Well, when was the last time you saw a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed?

And what makes it so hard to defeat — and assures that it will not vanish from the world anytime soon — is that it requires only minimal resources and willing agents to use them, of whom there does not seem to be a shortage.

Learning that Rahami’s father warned the FBI about his son without any action being taken is one more piece of evidence that we are not yet serious about fighting terrorism, a fight in which the first step must be to identify the enemy clearly and without illusions.

James Woolsey, the Clinton administration’s CIA director, said Monday that, “As long as we have to talk about things in a politically correct way and we can’t say that it’s Islamic terror … we are causing ourselves a massive amount of trouble. There’s virtually nothing that’s worse than political correctness if you’re trying to understand what’s going on in something like a movement like radical Islam.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombers in 1993, was on the same wavelength on National Review Online on Monday: “Here is reality: The enemy that unifies the terrorist siege against the U.S., Israel, and the West is Islamic supremacist ideology, which aims to bring the world under sharia dominion.”

McCarthy said that there is, in fact, no such thing as a “homegrown terrorist.”


As he noted in another column, this time on the PJ Media website Wednesday, “lone wolves” almost always display a history of “extensive connections to other Islamic extremists, radical mosques, and (on not rare occasions) jihadist training facilities … The wolves are members of the pack, and that’s why they are the antithesis of ‘lone’ actors.”

Failing to recognize those global ideological associations (which also serve as support and recruiting networks), presumably to keep from being falsely criticized for “hating all Muslims,” is what is keeping us from acting effectively to counter their adherents, McCarthy says.

But since nonconforming Muslims are just as much jihadist targets as anyone else, the fight against radical Islam is a fight to protect them, too.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

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