First Line Of Defense

A lot has been made of lessons that can be drawn from that thwarted plot to bring down U.S.-bound planes with liquid bombs. To be sure, it should remind us of the value of profiling – including behavior — especially now that Norman Mineta has finally stepped down as Transportation Secretary and removed himself as a cabinet-level obstacle to common sense.

But the London experience also underscores an even more important security factor. The initial tip came from within the British-Pakistani community. Suspicious behavior was reported to authorities, which set in motion surveillance by M15, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. In collaboration with Pakistan and the U.S., the Brits arrested and filed criminal charges against 11 suspects and foiled what could have been a horrendous mass murder on the order of 9/11.

In the battle of wits with terrorists, the defense necessarily plays catch-up. And the offense only has to win infrequently, if that. Intelligence is the first line of pre-emption. And it starts, frankly, in the place where Islamaniacs are incubated.

But it takes a lot more than anti-terrorism sermons or op-ed letters that condemn jihadi barbarity, as welcome as those obviously are. Even more important is the singling out of would-be Muslim menaces by those in a position to notice the salient signs of martyrdom-in-the-making.

It’s not so much ratting out your own as it is a show of solidarity with the innocent, who ultimately come in all races, nationalities and faiths.

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