On the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, news surfaced of the arrest of 5 men accused of plotting to blow up a bridge over the Cuyahoga river in Ohio. When I heard on the radio that there was “no link to international terrorism,” I immediately thought to myself: they must be non-Muslims. Sure enough, I was right: they were five white guys who were self-described “anarchists.”
Further, since these guys were not Muslim, I wondered whether anyone, either in law enforcement or the media, would call them what they really were: terrorists. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.
U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, who announced the indictments, said: “This indictment in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot.”
The head of the FBI in northern Ohio, Stephen D. Anthony, said that the work of law enforcement showed them ”to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”
Several news reports had “terror” in their headlines:
Chicago Tribune: 5 arrested in alleged terrorist plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge.
ONNtv: Informant revealed in alleged bridge terror plot.
NECN.com: 5 men charged in Cleveland terror plot.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer: A homegrown terror plot foiled.
This is quite heartening to see, because it signals – I hope – an increasing understanding that terrorism has no faith, no ethnicity, no language, no culture. All terrorists – no matter what their faith or motivation – are our enemies, not just the ones who claim to be Muslim.
As Marquette University (my alma mater) political science professor Risa Brooks wrote:
focusing our attention on domestic terrorism of all types and not just that generated by Muslim Americans can help heal the social rifts generated by 9/11. Singling out Muslim militants when we talk about terrorism in the U.S. adds to the mutual alienation of Muslims and Americans of other backgrounds. By unifying in opposition to extremism of all types, we demonstrate to ourselves and to our terrorist adversaries abroad that we remain true to American values and principles.