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What Happens if There Is Another Terrorist Attack in America?

(AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

This past week has felt a lot like the early 2000s, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since Saturday, my colleagues and I have been writing almost nonstop about the war in Israel, which is the latest development in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. I’m having conversations about terrorism and the Middle East that I haven’t had in years.

Over the past decade, there have been fewer than 10 radical Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States. Most of these were lone wolf attacks carried out by people who were radicalized after already residing in the country.

But the hostilities in Israel have brought concerns about a resurgence in terrorist activity on American soil. These worries were exacerbated by the words of a former Hamas leader, who exhorted Muslims to express their anger on Friday, October 13th. The New York Police Department (NYPD) has begun mobilizing for potential violence, in the wake of former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's missive.

The NYPD has ordered all cops to report in uniform starting Friday in anticipation of potential unrest stemming from the former leader of Hamas’ call on Muslims to stage global demonstrations in support of Palestinians, The Post has learned.

“All uniformed members of the service in every rank, will perform duty in the uniform of the day and be prepared for deployment,” read a Wednesday night memo sent to all NYPD members.

Cops will not be granted excusals or shift changes and the order will remain in effect “until further notice,” according to the memo.

The former Hamas leader made his statements on Tuesday, and there are fears that some will heed them and engage in violence.

Former Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal gave a speech on Tuesday encouraging Muslims and Palestinian supporters to display their anger and begin pro-Palestinian demonstrations on Friday while begging for donations for Hamas to continue its war with Israel.

As reported by Reuters, Mashaal primarily aimed his speech at those living in the Arab and Islamic world, encouraging them to "head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday."

"Tribes of Jordan, sons of Jordan, brothers and sisters of Jordan... This is a moment of truth and the borders are close to you, you all know your responsibility," Mashaal said.

He also addressed all who teach and learn "jihad," or the Muslim holy war.

"To all scholars who teach jihad... to all who teach and learn, this is a moment for the application (of theories)," he added.

Hopefully, there will be no terrorist attacks forthcoming. But if this were to happen, it could potentially have far-reaching consequences for the nation and the world – especially if there are many casualties.

For starters, such an occurrence would send shockwaves through America’s political landscape. If it happens while President Joe Biden is at the helm, it could be perceived as a failure of his administration and make people more hesitant to support him. Indeed, Biden has already been criticized for what people perceive to be a weak and tepid response to the outbreak of violence in Israel.

Moreover, if former President Donald Trump becomes the nominee, he would play to the fact that he decimated ISIS while he was in office. When people are afraid, they might look to someone who has a proven track record of handling radical Islamic terrorism.

Democrats in Congress would not be immune from this fallout. There is a decent chance that Americans will place Republicans in charge of the government, as Democrats are perceived as weak on these issues.

Next, there can be no doubt that the elites in government will use a potential terrorist attack as a prime opportunity to grow their power. It is precisely what happened after 9/11. Congress passed the Patriot Act, which expanded the federal government’s ability to spy on American citizens under the guise of trying to root out terrorism. This has resulted in a multitude of violations of privacy and civil liberties.

If there is another attack, we should get ready for Patriot Act 2.0, 3.0, and possibly 4.0. Politicians and members of the press will lull the public into believing that the government should amass more power for our own good. Unfortunately, much of the public will go along with this proposition, which will undoubtedly make us less free.

There is also the possibility that such an attack could help America overcome its deepening political divisions. Right now, Americans are very much separated by political ideology. Collective trauma could bring about a paradigm shift in which Americans view external forces as the enemy instead of Team Red and Team Blue. Something similar happened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, we no longer live in the year 2001. In 2023, a terrorist attack could very well cause even more division. The two parties will point fingers at the other, blaming political opposition for the loss of life. Rather than uniting against a common enemy, Americans might turn on each other. It’s not a pleasant outcome, but it cannot be discounted.

The situation in Israel is already having global ramifications. But as far as the violence goes, it has remained in the region. However, it might not take much for the conflict to have a ripple effect across the globe. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen – the nation is already enough of a powder keg as it is.

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