On Sept. 1, 2004, Chechens affiliated with al Qaeda seized a middle school in Beslan, Russia. In the three day siege, 334 people --most of them children -- were killed. Could something like that happen here?
U.S. forces seized in 2002 an al Qaeda training tape of a practice assault on an abandoned school in Mir Bach Kot in Afghanistan. The terrorists were barking commands in English.
U.S. forces in Iraq found on a captured al Qaeda computer building plans for schools in six states.
In May of 2006, two Saudi students at the University of South Florida boarded a school bus. They were "cagey and evasive" in explaining why they boarded the bus, said a spokesman for the Hillsborough County sheriff.
In March of 2007, the FBI issued a bulletin to law enforcement warning that Moslems "with ties to extremist groups" were signing up to be school bus drivers.
A Houston television station reported in August of this year that 17 large yellow school buses have been stolen.Al Qaeda prefers middle schools because the girls are old enough to rape, but the boys aren't big enough to fight back, says retired Army LtCol. Dave Grossman, who runs a private security firm.
Why would al Qaeda contemplate something so monstrous?Al Qaeda may lack the strength to attack a heavily defended target such as a military base or a nuclear power plant. But attacking a school would be child's play. Lt Col. Grossman thinks schools in rural areas are the most likely targets, because response time from law enforcement would be slower.
"The terrorists' primary objective is to instill fear in every one of us," former FBI agent Don Clark said on the Glenn Beck program last month. "What better way to attack our schools and murder our children?"Don't they realize that such an attack would make Americans very, very mad?
They're counting on that, says Brad Thor, a former Homeland Security official who's written a book about al Qaeda's threat to children. "They want to create something so horrible that we will lose control in our reaction, we will be lynching Moslem people in the streets and burning mosques," Mr. Thor told Glenn Beck.
"They want to reduce us to animals like them to get the Islamic world behind them and finally get the holy war that they want kicked off and ignited."The vast majority of Moslems in the U.S. would be as horrified as you or I by an attack on schoolchildren. But it only takes a few.
Simultaneous attacks on three or four schools could be conducted by as few as 100 Islamists who are willing to die in order to kill. Such attacks would garner enormous publicity and cause widespread panic. Attacking schools here would be a desperate move. But depending on how things go in Pakistan over the next few weeks, al Qaeda may be in need of the Islamist version of the "Hail Mary" pass.
It's gotten its clock cleaned in Iraq. The ambushes the Taliban has sprung recently in Afghanistan have resulted in casualties chiefly among the ambushers. Al Qaeda's street credo in the Moslem world is at an all time low.
I doubt Americans would respond as al Qaeda hopes to an attack on our schools. But if such an outrage were to occur, Democrats need to think more about how voters will react to a political party that's been trying to cripple the ability of U.S. intelligence agencies to identify suspected terrorists, and to obtain useful information from them if they are captured.
Democrats attempted to block the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be attorney general because he would not declare the interrogation technique of waterboarding as "torture," something Congress itself was unwilling to do last year.
Waterboarding simulates drowning. It's very unpleasant, but causes no permanent damage. Only a handful of al Qaeda suspects have been subjected to the procedure, which is routinely applied to American pilots and special forces soldiers in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training.
It is ludicrous to say we may not do to terrorists what we routinely put our own people through, but Democrats tend to define as "torture" anything terrorists find unpleasant.
This attitude plays well with moonbats such as Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, who has written that trimming the beards of detainees at Guantanamo constitutes "torture." But how well will it play after an American Beslan?