It’s really a shame it had to come to this,” said an NYPD counterterrorism officer who was posted Sunday morning outside a Catholic church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Inside, the pews were filled with the faithful at Easter mass.
I asked her if she and her colleague were there because hundreds of people were killed hours earlier, halfway around the world, at Easter services in Sri Lanka. No, she said, this deployment in New York was scheduled months ago, but she understood the question perfectly well.
Christian churches, along with Jewish synagogues, Buddhist shrines, and Shiite Muslim mosques have been prime targets for violent jihadists, whether from the so-called Islamic State, al Qaeda, or groups or individuals that most of the world has never heard of.
The terrorists are on the fringe of their own faith, claiming anyone who does not believe exactly as they do deserves to die in their “holy war” against “Crusaders” and Jews, infidels and apostates. So wide do they cast their net of hatred that they can justify killing almost anyone, and the softer the target, in many respects, the better.
Especially from the perspective of ISIS and those it inspires, places of worship have the advantage of great symbolism and virtually no defenses. And an attack in one part of the world can lead to attacks elsewhere. If the death toll is high enough—which is certainly the case with the coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka—the shock will reverberate around the globe.
Notwithstanding the boasting of President Donald Trump, the war waged by such terrorists is far from over, and that is well understood by anyone in counterterror ops, which is why police would have been stationed outside places of worship in New York City anyway. Such are the facts of life and death in the 21st century.
“Happy Easter,” said the policewoman on the Upper East Side.
SOURCE: Christopher Dickey
The Daily Beast