Bombings demand greater vigilance
The succession of bombings that occurred in New York and New Jersey rattled the country to its core. Yet, while terrorist attacks have been frightening for all the citizens of the United States, these bombings were especially alarming for New Yorkers. New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States, so it has frequently been the target of choice for terrorists. With the continual rise of the Islamic State, there is no reason to believe that attacks like this will not happen again.
There is no link right now between Ahmad Khan Rahami and IS, but the common consensus so far among law enforcement is that Rahami acted on behalf of some form of jihadi motivation. A personal journal filled with praises for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda acts as evidence that supports this claim.
Terrorist groups have proven themselves to be very adept at manipulating vulnerable people across the world to support their ideologies, even in the United States. When someone falls victim to the recruitment tactics of one of these groups, that person feels a responsibility to prove themselves to the organization and inflict harm upon U.S. citizens.
These people are usually insecure outsiders who act alone, which is way more difficult to prevent than a coalition of multiple radicals.
It is much easier for law enforcement to thwart a terror plot when there are multiple people involved. For this reason, domestic terrorists, school shooters and jihadis perpetrate these attacks by themselves with high success rates.
These extremists can be stopped, but it would take every citizen joining together as a nation. Rahami was eventually apprehended because someone noticed his picture from the news and called the police. Other bombs set in place by Rahami were deactivated due to help from the watchful eyes of fellow New Yorkers. If citizens had not taken it upon themselves to report the suspicious activity, Rahami might still be at large and those other bombs might have gone off, injuring even more people.
As cliche as it may sound, the “If you see something, say something” mantra reigns true. A random backpack on a street corner may only be a backpack, but it could also be a pipe bomb. Vigilance is pivotal in stopping these lone wolves from successfully executing more attacks. Police officers cannot patrol all areas at the same time. Help they get from the public will only keep everyone safer. If every citizen can manage to keep his or her eyes peeled and report anything out of the ordinary, the nation will benefit greatly.
However, these attacks cannot be allowed to feed into the growing prejudice that already plagues the country. Islamophobia has been steadily rising since the 9/11 attacks and seems to have reached its pinnacle 15 years later at the height of the current presidential election. Regardless of personal political stance, citizens cannot discriminate againt or blame fellow U.S. natives for a crime that they themselves did not commit.
When we allow ourselves to fall victim to stereotyping and discrimination, we attack some of the core principles on which the United States prides itself. IS feeds off of this type of maltreatment, providing an inviting but false sanctuary for Muslims who feel betrayed or wrongfully condemned by the United States.
By fueling hateful dialogue that refers to all Muslims as terrorists, the nation risks alienating people and inadvertently driving them straight into the arms of the enemy. These types of attacks are horrifying for all involved, but the solution is not to create more discord. Rather, it is to unite against a common enemy.
The attacks last week felt personal to New Yorkers. A couple of the bombsites were only a few blocks away from Baruch College. With a presidential election dividing many and the continual rise of IS, it is more important than ever to come together as a country and prevent any more tragedies from occurring.
Law enforcement will always do its best to stop any attacks before they occur, but much of the responsibility falls on the citizens to be attentive to their surroundings. Unfair biases need to be put aside to strive toward stopping those who really want to hurt the United States. Now is the time for vigilance, not vengeance.