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Response to Octavio Johanson

Reader comment on item: American Border Secrets

Submitted by Yldaed Suriv (United States), May 10, 2005 at 20:00

Mr Johanson, you are confusing two different issues here. Illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism do not overlap to the extent that you imagine. To think that solving the problem of illegal immigration is a big step in fighting Islamic terrorism is similar to believing that a terrorist is more likely to travel on a one-way ticket. Al Qaeda is much smarter than you give them credit for and the real danger today is from Islamists who can travel freely across Western borders, specifically those that are born in Australia, Europe or North America (Canada in particular), perhaps even Israel which has a sizeable Arab population.

Think of the US born Saudi Islamist captured in Afghanistan, or the European born Tariq Ramadan (who was thankfully refused entry into the US by alert authorities) or the British born shoe-bomber (Richard Reid) or the white American Muslim convert (John Walker Lindh) from California who was captured in Afghanistan fighting against US forces for the Taliban or the Dutch Islamist who butchered Van Gogh in cold blood or the dangerous fanatic called Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens)who has openly bayed for Rushdie's blood or... You get the idea.

None of these people are going to be affected by a xenophobic drive against immigration as you seem to be proposing. If you think that making it harder for hardworking Chinese or Indians or Filipinos to migrate to the West is a good idea, remember that many Western European countries desperately need immigrants if they are to continue supporting the social benefit structure for its ageing populations. The issue is not about how much you love muslims or their religion (I do not) but whether you can see the difference between a radical Islamist who might also be a white EU citizen and the poor Cuban immigrant fleeing persecution. To concentrate on the latter is to display a profound ignorance of the real issues.

I think Dr. Pipes puts it quite accurately and in far fewer words when he says:

"In the case of non-citizens, the answer is simple: Don't let Islamists in. Exclude not just potential terrorists but also anyone who supports the totalitarian goals of radical Islam. Just as civilized countries did not welcome fascists in the early 1940s (or communists a decade later), they need not welcome Islamists today."

But we need to do more than this to account for those that are Islamists and also citizens of Western nations. They present the gravest danger.

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