Terrorists, unfortunately, have numerous US targets as prospects for their next attacks. These targets are chosen based on vulnerability and also by how much chaos and damage can be caused by a targeted attack. The United States continues to keep tabs on international terrorists in the wake of 9/11, with the biggest threat to its cities coming from Sunni militant Islamic organizations like Al Qaeda. Some of these terrorists are state-sponsored and others are splinter groups of radicalized jihadist movements. Al Qaeda and ISIS, in particular, are seen as two of the most dangerous terror networks capable of striking at any time. These include large-scale attacks of violence and destruction as well as smaller terrorist disaster threats like the Brussels airport bombing of 2016.
The Fort Dix military base in New Jersey was attacked by six Islamic radicals in 2007. In total, 13 people were fatally shot by the terrorist group who were later charged with 32 counts of attempted murder. Militant Islamic terrorist groups target military bases not only because they are essential cogs in the US military machine, but they also serve as symbolic targets. Sunni extremists have long wished for the removal of all United States military out of the Persian Gulf region. Terrorists promote an agenda of radical violence that they threaten against all “Islam enemies”. In particular, radical Sunnis wish to overthrow governments that are not ruled by the conservative Islamic law known as Sharia.
The 2016 terrorist bombings of the Brussel’s airport and its associated metro station killed 32 people as well as injuring many others. In addition to being a high-profile terrorist attack that was covered by news organizations throughout the world, the terrorist attack had a huge economic impact on the country. Tourism to Belgium declined, which also impacted consumer spending on hotels, travel and recreation services in the country. The United States and its airports are unfortunately possible targets as terrorists believe that U.S. airport security is extremely easy to compromise. For example, U.S. airport technology continues to look for metal even though explosives generally aren’t made of metal anymore (most are made from plastic). Of particular interest for an Islamic state assault is Washington D.C. as it is the capital of the United States and all that it represents. Terrorists had years earlier in the 9/11 attacks tried to target the Pentagon with one of their hijacked airplanes.
The Paris attacks of 2016 had targets that were chosen because they were culturally abhorrent to the Islamic terrorists. The Bataclan concert hall was seen as unholy by the terrorists because people drank beer and danced there. Likewise, the next US target for terrorists could be a place for large numbers of people gather for recreation. Two such targets include Disneyland and Las Vegas casinos. These attacks will have disastrous consequences since these areas are densely packed with people who are on vacation and thus away from their traditional support networks. Military expert Juval Aviv particularly worries about the ease of such attacks. He gives the example that all a terrorist group would have to do in a tourist spot is to load up a valet parked car with explosives and simply let it sit a while before it’s detonated.
Islamic terrorists target their attacks to weaken the enemies of Islam. One such target is military bases, which by being attacked would weaken (in theory) the U.S. military’s ability to fight back against ISIS and other terror groups. Another of the terrorist’s strategic targets is the school system of the United States. The commonplace school shootings in the U.S. are an unfortunate reminder of how unprepared most schools are to being broached by terrorists. An attack on U.S. schools would also be highly symbolic. Children represent our hope and future, and any attack against them would also be an attack against the system that fills their mind with Western ideals like democracy.
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