Miami terror arrests: The stakes of war

Miami terror arrests: The stakes of war
The arrests of seven terror suspects in Miami might offer us an opportunity to examine the volume level at which the non-military aspect of the war on terror is being waged. And perhaps it may offer a lesson or two on what the concept of "terror" – which has NEVER been well defined since this war was first declared – really is.

As you may have read, the seven suspects, five of whom are American citizens and two of whom are from Haiti, were arrested in Miami last week for allegedly plotting terror attacks as part of a war on the United States. One of their apparent aims was to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago. The �Miami Seven� were arrested after contacting an FBI informant posing as an apparent al-Qaida operative.

On the surface of that description, the arrests thankfully cut short a disturbing plot that threatened to inflict a lot of harm and generate a lot of fear within our borders.

Below the surface, however, there is much less to behold. The FBI itself describes the group as being more �aspirational than operational,� meaning there were big plans but little in the way of resources to realize them. They had no weapons or explosives in their possession, which is unlike the 16 terror suspects arrested in Toronto earlier this month.

The Miami group has been described widely as Muslim extremists, thus pressing a convenient hot button in the collective American consciousness, but the group appears to be comprised of a cocktail of beliefs that don�t fit any one label.

The group�s �temple� was actually an old warehouse, for which the group didn�t even have the funds to pay the electrical bill. Some reports have made efforts to link the group to al-Qaida, but other than talking to an FBI operative posing from the high-profile terrorist group, the Miami suspects seemed to comprise little more a �wannabe� organization with big plans and little else going for it.

So, given the light now being shed on the group, do the arrests of these seven men represent a major triumph in the war on terror? We will never TRULY know, of course, which is actually the best news in all of this. However, this group may well turn out to be nothing more than an impoverished collection of twisted dreamers with no resources and no connections.

We will, for the foreseeable future, likely be exposed periodically to such �major� arrests. And no matter how terroristic the alleged terrorists ultimately turn out to be (or not to be), the cases will generate fear among the public � which, oddly enough, is also what terrorists are trying to do. Indeed, both sides appear to court our fears as a means to an end.

Without question � and actually, with hope � there will be major arrests of major players in the terror world, and we should be on our guard and thankful for it. That is the nature of this war.

But, we must also come to grips with the fact that our fear seems to be the real prize in the current war on terror. Whoever can manipulate it gains the upper hand. However, as long as we keep our heads in check and judge each case on its real merits instead of its sensationalized talking points, we will be in a much better position to battle terror in all its forms.

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