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Terrorists are Coming! Big Surprise!

By James Jay Carafano

Check your gut. Apparently, the Secretary of Homeland Security has.

Michael Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune editorial board he had a "gut feeling" al Qaeda might try to attack the United States this summer. The paper highlighted the comment, and a regulation-issue media frenzy ensued.

What's really newsworthy here is the idea that Chertoff's remark is in any way remarkable or newsworthy.

Al Qaeda has been trying to pull off a 9/11 redux since, well, 9/11. Thankfully, the U.S. government has broken up at least 16 terrorist conspiracies over the last year. The broken schemes ran the gamut: from machine-gunning an Army recruiting office, to downing planes with short-range missiles, to blowing up bridges, tunnels, and airports.

Moreover, border security routinely turns back people on terrorist watch lists as they try to enter the country. We know for sure that at least one of those thus turned back was a committed terrorist: the Jordanians found what was left of his hand after he blew himself up in a suicide bombing.

Al Qaeda has been going after our friends and allies as well. London, Madrid, Bali, Toronto, London (again), and (again) London have all interrupted-or experienced-conspiracies cooked up by al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliates, al Qaeda look-alikes, and al Qaeda wanna-be's.

The bottom line: Al Qaeda has been trying to organize, outsource, or inspire attacks against the West non-stop since 9/11. These are serious people, and they are serious about trying to kill us. It should be no more surprising to hear about Secretary Chertoff's "gut feeling" than it would be to learn that Churchill harbored suspicions in 1942 that the Nazis "might be up to no good" that year.

Yet, remarkably there are still voices among our friends and allies overseas-and even within the United States-that persist in denying that we are engaged in a war on terrorism, or more accurately, that the terrorists are warring on us.

And some folks will doubtless use the Secretary's sober reminder as an opportunity to throw up their hands and say "all is lost...we are less safe than we were before 9/11...we are creating more terrorists than we are stopping." That is equally silly.

The truth is we are in a long war. We will be fighting that war until those trying to destroy freedom, peace, and justice in the world give up-just like the Soviets quit in the Cold War.

We will win by taking the war-and our enemies-seriously. When they say they want to kill us, they mean it.

We will not win if we delude ourselves into believing that our enemies will leave us alone if we leave them alone.

James Jay Carafano is senior research fellow on national security issues at The Heritage Foundation.

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