On Tuesday afternoon, a truck driver drove into a busy bike path in lower Manhattan, killing and injuring several people. Law enforcement officials have stated that the driver yelled, “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, insinuating it was an act of Jihad.
The attacker, Sayfullo Saipov came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010 through the Diversity Visa Program. This program grants visas to people in countries with a small number of immigrants in America. The rationale behind this program is to increase the diversity in America in regard to ethnic backgrounds, which achieves nothing other than a new demographic statistic. It is time we stop viewing race and ethnicity as a source of merit. Reverse racism does not solve racism, it simply introduces a new form of it.
As Trump stated in this tweet, we need a merit based immigration system, based on true, hard-earned merit.
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
The Manhattan attacker, however, is unique to terrorists in America since 9/11 in that he is not an American citizen. According to terrorism expert Peter Bergen, most jihadist attacks since 9/11 has been committed by a “lone-wolf” American citizen who has been radicalized. In each case, the attacker was not directly linked to ISIS or al-Qaeda, but was simply inspired by their propaganda. It is clear that we are not only fighting an organization, but an ideology. While merit-based immigration and vetting is necessary, it will not solve the problem entirely.
How to Fight an Ideology
Ideologies are far more difficult to dispel, if even possible, without infringing upon the freedom of citizens. Short of a communist dictatorship, there may not be an entirely effective solution.
Lone-wolf jihadists in America have become radicalized through internet propaganda and videos. These are incredibly difficult to censor, as there are now numerous sources of this propaganda. Intelligence agencies attempted to censor one of ISIS’ most influential source of propaganda, but were only able to do so temporarily.
The answer to the problem of Jihadist terrorism in America is as complicated as the issue itself. Peter Bergen, in his book The United States of Jihad, mentions that intelligence agencies often have access to concerning information on the attackers, but decide not to take interest. There is also a lack of communication between agencies and family members who are aware of the radicalization.
Ensuring that the population is aware of the warning signs and patterns indicative of radicalization is essential. Jihadists often follow similar paths to radicalization. Many are converts to the Muslim faith and they often experience some kind of isolation. They begin dressing differently, they reject the culture around them, and they begin making absurd statements. In numerous cases, the family and friends of an attacker noticed one or more of these behavioral changes, but did not give them the attention they deserved until it was too late. It is vital that more Americans become aware of the signs of radicalization and take action.
Ideology is a tough enemy, but with knowledge and greater awareness of the problem, we can make a difference.