Beslan: The Aftermath

Beslan: The Aftermath

The first attack took place at 0900 Monday, October 13, 2014 at the John P. Westover Elementary School in Coulton, a town of 35,000 in West Texas. Four young men drove into the parking lot, parked in an open space near the front door, and opened the trunk of their car. They were unhurried. The school was in a semi-rural area; there was no one to watch them or see what they were doing.

Within three minutes, each was armed with a handgun and a well-used AK-47 automatic rifle smuggled over the southern border weeks earlier by an allied drug cartel. They each carried at least six spare rifle magazines. One took up a position near the parking lot with a good view of the only road into the school off the nearby county road and three went to the front door. The door was locked and covered by a video camera that displayed to a monitor on a secretary’s desk in the office. She could open the door by remote.

Unfortunately, she was away from her desk making copies as the three young men shot their way through the large glass pane in the door and merely reached in to press the fire-code mandated panic bar. That took only eight seconds. One made his way to the office and quickly killed everyone there. It took only a minute and 20 seconds. One secretary was shot hiding under her desk. The principal and assistant principal and the other secretary were found in various places in the office suite, killed with multiple shots. In the meantime, the two others fanned out, entering different hallways and emptying a magazine in each classroom. The first young man quickly joined them.

It was not until 10 minutes and 12 seconds after the young men first parked their car until a teacher in a classroom that had not yet been attacked managed to call 911. The first police officer arrived within 4 minutes and 22 seconds and was shot from ambush and killed by the young man waiting outside. The next two police officers suffered the same fate, but one was able to report that he was ambushed before losing consciousness. This considerably slowed the police response from that moment, and for all future attacks around the nation.

In the building, two of the young men began to throw lit pipe bombs into classrooms. Made with widely available black powder and packed with ball bearings and incendiary chemicals, they caused damage to the structure of the building and set several fires.

By the time 26 minutes elapsed, the three young men were reasonably sure they had either shot or bombed every classroom in the elementary school, so they began to take their time, retrace their steps, and shoot every child or teacher still alive.

In the meantime, every police officer from the surrounding area was converging on the school, but they had no cover on the flat land surrounding the school, and had to stand off a considerable distance to avoid being immediately killed or wounded. Just as a sufficient number of officers had finally arrived to allow them to keep the ambusher pinned down while others maneuvered to flank him, the other three, satisfied that they killed as many as possible, and closely pursued by the spreading fire, burst from the front doors and opened fire on the approaching officers, killing three and wounding two. They didn’t try to take cover, but advanced slowly and methodically on the police, killing the wounded and supporting each other.

First one was shot and disabled, then another. As the tide of battle turned, the remaining two screamed “Allahu Akbar!” and charged. One was shot and instantly killed by a nearby resident with his 30.06 deer rifle, the other died from a shotgun blast from a deputy Sheriff. As the officers raced toward the two still alive, they tried to fire at the officers, forcing the officers to kill them.

Only four teachers–two wounded–survived. Only 58 students–17 wounded–survived. Two teachers in classrooms most distant from the front door had the presence of mind to understand what was happening early and managed to race out the back of the school with their classes of 20 and 23 respectively, and hid behind a set of bleachers at the adjacent football field. The other survivors were either able to hide, played dead convincingly, were overlooked, or were at least partially shielded by the bodies of their friends.

As the fires raged in the building and spread, officers were forced to methodically clear the building, having no idea how many shooters were present or if they left booby traps. Their necessary caution surely cost the lives of some teachers and students who were wounded and bled out or died in the flames or the collapse of a portion of the roof, but there was, of course, no way to tell how many.

Firefighters were finally allowed into the building one hour, 13 minutes and 27 seconds after the 911 call was received. About 40% of the funerals were closed casket.

The media immediately seized on the AK-47 rifles and semi automatic pistols the killers used to editorialize for gun control. For once they were right, the killers actually used “assault rifles.” The Obama Administration urged calm and refused to acknowledge that the killers were jihadists or that the attack was religiously motivated, despite the fact that all four were Muslims in America on expired student visas. President Obama delivered a stirring teleprompter reading, calling the attack an isolated instance of domestic workplace violence and promised to enact through executive orders, the gun control measures the Congress refused to do, beginning with “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines.”

The second attack took place on October 16th at a middle school in a Chicago suburb. Three young men from Yemen and Syria were involved. The death toll was 284 with 146 wounded. All three shooters committed suicide by cop by charging the police. They left an Internet video praising the noble Jihad and swearing to bring the Great Satan to its knees. Despite administration denials and evasions, it was eventually found that they simply walked across the Southern border three months earlier and were, by posing as Salvadorans, supported by the government until they were able to obtain weapons smuggled across the border by a helpful drug cartel, and build sufficient bombs to carry out their plot.

Within three weeks, there had been five similar attacks throughout the nation, all carried out by Jihadists. Some had been living in America for years, others walked across America’s southern and northern borders. Seven were found to have fought and trained with Jihadists in Iraq and Syria. The Administration tried to cover it up, but it was leaked. Even the President and the news media could no longer deny the reality that jihad was being waged on a grand and growing scale on American soil.

Millions of parents began keeping their children home from school. Seeing an opportunity, and never allowing such an opportunity to go to waste, President Obama declared martial law, suspended the Constitution, revoked the Second Amendment by executive order, and ordered the seizure of privately owned firearms. The House Majority leader promised to file a bigger and more serious lawsuit against the President for exceeding his authority. A growing number of Congressmen swore to appoint committees to look into impeachment proceedings. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid blamed the Koch Brothers, and called any impeachment verdict dead on arrival in the Senate. Most American gun owners, and a surprisingly large portion of the public, finally realized that the government could not protect them and were not encouraged by Mr. Obama’s actions.

Within a week, guns and ammunition were sold out across America as more than enough Americans to make a difference prepared to fight two enemies. Many were not sure which was worse.

Americans have long enjoyed the blessings of liberty, among them: living under the rule of law, having the benefits of national sovereignty, the foremost of which being secure borders, living in relative peace and safety, and living lives of plenty and leisure unimaginable to most of the world and throughout history. Those benefits have been secured by America’s powers, both economic and military, and by geographic isolation. As a result, we’ve become complacent.

It has been a long process, but Barack Obama has accelerated that complacency and its consequences in only about six years, more than any ten previous presidents might have accomplished. By gutting the military, by throwing open America’s borders, by refusing to uphold any law he doesn’t like and unilaterally rewriting others, he has called into question all of the benefits of liberty.

More dangerously, President Obama has alienated our allies and embraced our enemies. Our allies cannot trust us and our enemies do not fear us. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and her closest advisor was Huma Abedin, a Muslim woman whose family has numerous jihadist ties, and who herself worked for radical Muslim organizations. Not only has Mr. Obama frequently invited notorious Islamists to the White House, he has close ties to many,  and many have worked or now work at all levels in the Obama Administration, or have direct access to the highest levels of the American government.

It is particularly ironic that Mr. Obama has become, quite unintentionally, the greatest gun salesman of all time. Millions of Americans have become first time firearm owners because of him. Because of active shooter attacks at schools and malls, arming willing teachers and other school staff is now being seriously discussed and in some places, implemented. It is not being implemented fast enough.

We have not had another 9-11 because regardless of what one thinks of George W. Bush, he put Islamist terror on the defensive, and American troops killed tens of thousands of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrorists that would have come to America flocked to the Middle East to battle the “Great Satan.” All the while, on a smaller scale, actual Islamist sleeper agents were integrating themselves into American society, and thousands of other Muslims who are already radicalized, or who have become radicalized, were already Americans. As ISIS slaughters its way to a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, thousands of Muslims bearing American passports are there, learning the techniques of Jihad–holy war–against the Infidels–all non-Muslims, particularly Americans and Jews. They will be returning, and when they do, they will not seek peace.

Terrorists know it will be difficult to once again turn a passenger jet into a flying bomb. Americans airline passengers will not sit idly by and wait for terrorist hijackers to crash their plane into a building, and as much as the TSA is mostly security theater, annoying innocent people rather than stopping terrorists, even that weak tea has made grander gestures of terror more difficult.

Fortunately for terrorists, unfortunately for us, America is full of soft targets. Schools, theaters, shopping malls, sporting events, even hospitals and nursing homes, are all tempting targets that will allow determined killers free reign to kill large numbers of innocents. To the Islamist mindset, to people who wish to strike terror in the hearts of infidels, schools are number one on their hit list. Slaughtering children warms the hearts of medieval monsters who believe such blood-letting is the will of their god and a religious obligation. Killing children is also great publicity for the jihadist cause. And terrorists have experience.

On September 1, a group of Muslim terrorists seized a middle school in Beslan, Russia.  More than a thousand adults and children were held hostage. Many were raped, beaten, tortured and murdered. The terrorists set bombs throughout the school. On the third day of the siege, Russian special forces assaulted the school and about 350 died, half of those, children. Hundreds of survivors were wounded.

All but one of the terrorists was killed. The terrorists were members of the same terrorist organization responsible for an assault on a Moscow theater–another soft target–in 2002 that resulted in the deaths of about 130 hostages.

But that could never happen in America! Consider the fictional scenario that begins this article. That could happen anywhere in America, and I fear that it will. Our police officers have more than enough difficultly detecting and stopping single, domestic active shooters armed only with light firearms. A heavily armed group of terrorists armed with light arms and explosives could easily kill hundreds in any school setting–including innumerable police officers–before sufficient police officers could arrive to contain and stop them. American police officers are not trained for that kind of combat, nor are they appropriately armed or otherwise equipped.

If–when–a group of terrorists attack a school, parents must abandon all TV and movie-inspired scenarios. Highly trained warriors like the Navy SEALS have a saying that goes like this: “It sucks to be a hostage.” That saying reflects the reality that in such situations, hostages virtually always die, killed by terrorists, or caught in the crossfire. Heroes able to kill every terrorist without a single hostage suffering harm are the inventions of fiction and fantasy.

But why stir up anxiety, and why now? Until recently, the most likely threat against schools was from lone, domestic shooters, as in the case of Newtown, Connecticut or Virginia Tech.  In each of those cases, the attacker was a young male using commonly available light arms. Neither of them had any military or tactical training, yet they killed 26 and 32 people respectively.

What’s changed is the explosion of jihadist violence in the Middle East as terrorists fill the power vacuum left by America’s retreat, and the nearly complete lapse of American enforcement of borders and immigration law. Jihadists have long threatened deadly violence against America, but until Barack Obama, had been occupied in the Middle East. With America completely out of Iraq and pulling out of Afghanistan, Iraq is all but lost to democracy and will serve as a terrorist training haven, as will Afghanistan, and thousands–soon to become tens of thousands–of eager jihadist recruits are flocking there, many with American passports. Mr. Obama has, for years, been proclaiming that he all but wiped out Islamist terrorism. As with Obamacare, he lied.

During the last six years, Mr. Obama has all but sent engraved invitations to anyone in the world to illegally immigrate. Latin and South America have become hot beds of anti-American fervor, and Iran, the primary state sponsor of Islamist terror in the world, has established terrorist infrastructure throughout Central and South America: 

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said yesterday that Iran has built up a terror infrastructure in Central and South America from which to attack Jewish and Israeli targets in the region and as a base for attacking inside the United States.

‘The Iranians use diplomatic mail in order to transport bombs and weapons,’ he said in a meeting with visiting Guatamalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina, himself a former intelligence chief in his country. ‘We know that there are states in South America like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia where the Iranians have terror bases, both in the embassies and among the local Shiite Muslim populations.’

Yaalon pointed to the indictment of two Iranian nationals in Federal Court in New York two years ago for allegedly plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington and said the Iranians were using drug routes to smuggle weapons into the United States.

‘They built this infrastructure,’ said Yaalon, ‘for the eventuality that they will have to act against Jews or Israeli interests. But it is important to them as an infrastructure that enables them to act within the United States.

There can be no doubt that Islamic terrorists have been infiltrating personnel, weapons and money into America over the mostly unguarded southern border for many years while Mr. Obama and his supporters have excoriated anyone demanding that immigration laws be enforced and national sovereignty preserved. Anyone refusing to support open borders is attacked by the Left as inhumane and racist.

These factors are coming together to produce the virtual certainty of Islamist attacks against soft targets on American soil, and soon. It’s simply too tempting and too easy, particularly now that they see America as weak and vulnerable and have the numbers of terrorists available to carry out the attacks.

What Can Be Done?

As long as Barack Obama is in office, little or nothing at the national level can or will be done to change policy or stop the unchecked flow of illegal immigrants, among them, innumerable Islamist terrorists, into the country. Even if those problems could be remedied tomorrow, if the ability of terrorist organizations to easily infiltrate terrorists and arms into America could be suddenly cut off, there are still thousands of dedicated terrorist killers already here, and thousands more that will become radicalized by the success of ISIS and other Islamist movements throughout the world. They will be able to arm themselves as most domestic criminals do and make explosives using commonly available commercial products.

Anti-freedom advocates scoff at the aphorism that the only thing that can stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns, but it is undeniably true, particularly when those bad guys are jihadists who expect to die after taking as many infidels with them as possible. The more honest Americans that are armed with concealed weapons, and the more that train effectively and carry those concealed weapons everywhere they go, the better. Being present when a terrorist attack occurs would be terrible. Being unarmed when a terrorist attack occurs would be infinitely worse.

Be aware that the police have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen, nor may they be successfully sued for failing to protect anyone. Certainly, any competent police officer would love to take down terrorists, but there are very few police officers. Most Americans would be stunned to learn how few officers patrol their city at any time of the day or night, or how long it would take officers to respond to even a 911 call–if they respond at all in some places. Recent history reveals that in school shootings by single domestic killers, the police can’t be expected to even enter the building for an average of 15 minutes after they receive the call. Knowing how police train and work reveals, as the initial scenario of this article illustrates, that the police are not trained or equipped to deal with the kinds of weapons and tactics jihadists employ.

Citizens that depend on others to save their lives will likely lose their lives.

All must work relentlessly through the political system to turn gun-free zones, particularly those at schools, into well-armed zones. Anti-freedom advocates take the long view; they work single-mindedly for decades to take away firearms and the ability to defend the lives of the innocent. Those that love freedom and recognize not only the nature and immediacy of the Islamist threat, but the primacy of the right to self-defense, must be no less single-minded, far-sighted and resolute. Jihadists will absolutely take advantage of gun-free zones, just as domestic shooters have.

Finally, understand that government has no conscience. Despite how a politician or bureaucrat might profess to care about “the people,” the people are only an abstraction, a voting block to be pandered to when it’s politically advantageous, and to be ignored otherwise. Government does not care at all about the fate of any individual. There is no one upon whom we may depend to protect our lives and the lives of those we love but ourselves. It has always been so.

The happy days when we could enjoy the blessings of liberty without lifting so much as a finger to secure them are gone. We just haven’t learned the individual cost–yet. That time is coming.