Prime Time Crime
(Published in the Abbotsford News week of May 24, 2004)
Don't Discount Terrorist Threat
By John Pifer
Given the parochial attitude that most people have, thinking seriously about anything much beyond the local prices of gas at the pumps is a stretch.
Oh, they might pay some attention to a provincial political story that directly affects them, or to one that is so bizarre as to be mandatory water-cooler conversation the next day (MLA Elayne Brenzinger's "He grabbed my ass" shocker springs to mind).
The general public may even rise briefly from its narrow view of life to realize that there is a federal election currently under way that might actually be interesting for the first time in decades.
But as for taking time to view or to analyze The Big Picture, so to speak, there are few who devote much time or attention to what is going on in the real world.
This applies to everything from environmental concerns, to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, wherein only a tiny percentage in the overall population raises a voice for change.
So, when it comes to the threat of more terrorist activity in America, or even in Canada, the apathy is palpable. It might be a one-day media wonder with talk of "living in fear" or warnings of some kind of attack that would be worse than September 11, 2001.
Until it happens, though, it will be dismissed as election-year politicking by George Bush and Co., or ridiculous posturing to deflect attention from the prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq, or as more evidence that 'military intelligence' is an oxymoron. Thus it becomes a brief divertissement from the election or those aforementioned gas prices, and then it's shrugged off.
This week's reports of a pending Al Queda cell planning a summer of terror on North American soil was such a mess of mixed signals, incomplete information and outright stupidity in how it was handled, that it ended up as little more than a series of one-liners for Jay Leno.
But we would be unwise in the extreme not to pay attention to what the terrorists might be planning. We would be foolish beyond belief if we chose to dismiss concerns that Canada has been, and is, a haven for all manner of fanatical groups and their followers.
Remember, ours is a country in which thousands of people who have been ordered deported cannot even be located by the assorted law-enforcement agencies so that they may be tossed out. That hardly prompts confidence that these agencies could find or stop a few bloody-minded terrorists with mayhem in their hearts and minds, who carry all the proper credentials.
I do not doubt for a minute that terrorists of many stripes live here quietly, waiting for the call to wreak havoc.
I do not doubt that our lax laws, our pathetic excuse for security, and our na´ve coddling of criminals is a breeding ground and/or hideout for those who are prepared to kill randomly for their "cause".
And I do not doubt that their 'targets' will include Canadian sites, too.
Be warned; stay wary; wake up, Canada.
Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.