Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Threat From Within

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Editor of the US News & World Report (www.usnews.com) wrote in his Sunday, December 10, 2006 article about the new threat in the war on terror. It caught my attention because he sheds light on the fact that America is vulnerable, not only from enemies without our borders, but from enemies within.

Mr. Zuckerman states: “Today all eyes are on Iraq. It's called the center of the war on terrorism, but it must not monopolize our attention. We need a third eye because we are now less likely to be attacked by international terrorists than by homegrown American citizens, self-radicalized individuals who are members of groups inspired by al Qaeda propaganda.”

He goes on to note that, “… there are many more British Muslims who back the terrorists. MI-5 has stopped five plots to date. We know of the one to blow up 10 planes over the Atlantic, but MI-5 is monitoring 1,600 other suspects, mostly homegrown Islamic terrorists who get their training in murder and mayhem on the Internet.”

The threat, indeed, is from within. Homegrown terrorists who are inspired to destroy the cradle that granted them the freedom to do so.

“Interviews with the heads of counterterrorism and local police officials in the United States yield similar assessments. The threat is from second- and third-generation children of immigrants, fluent in English and accustomed to American society but using the legal rights of U.S. citizenship to rebel from within. They have learned the Koran on the Internet; they lead small clusters of 20 to 25 mostly young men who share feelings of alienation, a longing for self-importance, a need to be a part of some larger group or cause. They have developed what is called "adversarial assimilation."

“The Internet has replaced Afghanistan as a training ground. It is effectively the university of jihadist studies, where hundreds of Muslims from all corners of the world can study the rules of jihad, while they live in it anonymously.”

His article strikes at so many chords it is difficult to focus on just one.

I find it interesting that it is 20-25 year old young men who are “longing for self-importance” and needing “to be a part of some larger group or cause”. To me that is indicative of the importance the effectiveness of the church has on our world at large. Are we as ministers doing our best to connect with young people in our culture in a contemporary way to give them a sense of belonging and importance in a larger cause; namely the church of the living God.

Zuckerman goes on to say that, “If we are to avert mass casualties from the enemies within, it is imperative to fashion a new approach to find these people. Our criminal justice model has been to look for the criminal after the crime. This won't do any longer. How do you punish a suicide bomber? We must disrupt plots before they are carried out. Gathering this intelligence will impinge on traditional civil liberties, but we simply don't have much choice. As the well-known journalist, Harold Evans, told the Hudson Institute recently, "I'd rather be photographed by a hidden surveillance camera than travel on a train with men carrying bombs in their backpack. I'd regard being blown to bits on the street as more of an intrusion of privacy than having an identity card."

He sums up his thoughts by saying, “… the greatest threat to civil liberties today is not preventive measures, but failing to take them.”

I find all this interesting not only on a secular level but on a spiritual level.

Andy Stanley has a book entitled, “It came from within”. The Bible declares the heart of man to be deceitful, desperately wicked, who can know it? (
http://bible.cc/jeremiah/17-9.htm ) Any honest man must acknowledge that we don’t fully know what lives in our hearts. We don’t know exactly what we would do in a given situation. We’d like to think we have some principles to guide us but it is amazing how being present in the moment affects rational and intentional thought. The bottom line is I must protect myself from what may or may not be growing “within”. Preventative measures are prudent for the sincere Christian.

When I consider my ways I must acknowledge that it is true. The majority of the terror that sin has caused my soul has been the result of a lack of prevention. The measures necessary to defend my soul against the sin nature lurking within were accessible, known, but not acted on.

Prevention is the word. Instead of focusing on catching and cleaning up after the crime, we must be focused, in Mr. Zuckerman’s advice, on preventing the crime from ever occurring. Good advice for my soul as well. I am responsible for guarding myself from what is within. Indeed, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Furthermore, this preventative approach, both secularly and spiritually, requires the relegation of personal freedoms. How did Paul say it? “All things are lawful but not all things expedient” (
http://bible.cc/1_corinthians/10-23.htm ).

This war on sin might mean giving up some things I’d rather not give up but if it will protect me and my family from what might be growing within then so be it.

I heard recently of a respected Pastor that confessed to his congregation that he had been involved in an ongoing extra-marital affair. People hear of his story and they say, “That’s terrible. How could this happen?” The threat from within was not prevented from carrying out an act of terrorism on the soul.

We are the only ones capable, and responsible, to defend our soul from the threat within. This is a war we cannot lose.


Aunt Pat said...

Wow Adam!!! What a good lesson. We just can't even know our own hearts. We need Jesus to search it out for us. This puts the enemy in a new light. Good one!!!

Adam J. Solorio said...

I appreciate that. It is something I've learned to take very seriously. One preacher said we blame too much on the enemy. He said, "We don't need to blame him for everything. We've got enough jerk in all of us to sin!" True.