On This 9/11 Anniversary, Some Reflections About Security, Intelligence, and the Will to Fight

A blog devoted to issues of security that Israelis share with Americans and people in other Western countries should not let 9/11 pass without comment. We still mourn the dead of that day, 12 years ago, and send our sympathies to their families and friends.

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It is the 12th anniversary of a terrible day for America — an awful day, too, for people living in democracies around the globe.

On September 11, 2001, the murderous actions of 19 suicidal terrorists sent by al-Qaeda changed the world’s thinking on intelligence, security, religion, and the daily routines of hundreds of millions of people.

The importance of good intelligence — and letting normally secret agencies do what they are best at doing — has been recognized.  Only by having better intelligence can a repeat of 9/11 be prevented.

from 911memorial.org : The World Trade Center site may be visited in New York

Better intelligence requires greater cooperation and sharing of data among countries.

In emergency cases, rough interrogations of suspects have become a norm: not one that is widely hailed publicly, but professionals in the security field insist that physical abuse is sometimes required.

More broadly, it looks like democracies occasionally have to defend themselves by sacrificing some democratic values on the altar of improving their citizens’ security.

In rare cases, lethal force (including special operations by secretive troops who could be called assassins, and missiles fired by drone aircraft) needs to be used to derail terrorists’ plans.

Security at airports and sometimes in other parts of major cities comes at the expense of convenience. We will never fly as easily as we used to.

The Western world, which generally would not spend any time thinking about Islam, seems to have concluded that on the margins of the Muslim religion are jihadists, fanatics, and haters of the West.

Western European nations have modified their immigration policies, trying to limit the number of Muslims in their respective countries.

The jihadists (the “holy warriors”), on the other hand, realized that the West — led by the United States — is ready and willing to fight back.  Some terrorist attacks might seem daring or even spectacular, but the West is not “a paper tiger” and will not collapse in the face of violence. Terrorism will not break Western societies, Christian cultures, or the Jewish state crumble.

Muslim extremists have also discovered that despite some minor successes — establishing a footprint for groups inspired by al-Qaeda in some Middle Eastern and African countries — the regimes they are trying to topple are also tough cookies. In Egypt, for now, it’s not the Muslim Brotherhood that is winning.

In Syria, we note with a sense of tragedy, the outcome of the civil war that has killed well over 100,000 people remains unknown.

September 11, 2013

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