Once again evil has struck New York City. ISIS terrorist Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov used a rented truck to run down and kill 8 innocent people and injure at least a dozen more. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and those injured.
But we cannot say we did not see this coming.
Last year, ISIS urged its followers in the West to use rented trucks to murder innocent people in New York, singling out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as an “an excellent target.”
Less than a year later, a terrorist rented a truck and murdered people in the name of ISIS, mere steps from the World Trade Center.
The terrorist shouted “Allahu Akbar,” announcing to all who would listen the reason for his cowardly terrorist attack. He did it in the name of Jihad. He did it in the name of ISIS. He did it in the name of my religion. He is a soldier in the ongoing “war on the West” declared by radical Islamists.
But he is not a “lone wolf,” as many in the media have described him. There is no such thing as a “lone wolf.” He did not sit alone in the woods and then – one day, out of the blue – come up with the idea of renting a truck and running down innocent people while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” That was an instruction given by ISIS last year. Those were marching orders carried out by truck-driving Islamist terrorists from Jerusalem to Berlin to Nice to London and now in New York City.
As a Muslim woman, it bothers me tremendously that this terrorist and others murder innocent people, and declare war on the West and Western values, in the name of my religion. But just because it bothers me does not mean that I, or you, should close our eyes and ears and pretend that we do not see what these terrorists do, nor hear what they say.
My co-religionists will go on the defensive and play the victim card. “Useful idiots” in politics and the media will go on the offense; attacking those, like me, who dare speak the truth. They have even called me, a practicing Muslim woman, an anti-Muslim and an Islamophobe, in a pointless attempt to try to shut me up.
Meanwhile, we have a systematic and growing problem that is not being addressed head-on. Just this year there has been up to 13 vehicular attacks, up from 3 last year. When are we going to have the courage to open our eyes, ears – and our voices – to speak out?
It is time we had an open, honest conversation about what is going on, without calling names, and without trying to shut down dialogue. Remember it could be our families next.
We need to ask tough questions, like:
– What action is being taken against ISIS fighters coming home to Western countries?
– What action is being taken to get to the root of radicalization based on teaching hate?
– When there are converts involved, who is converting them and what are they teaching them?
– When there is radicalization going on, are we hearing what is being said from the pulpit?
It is time to end the terror. And the first step to dealing with a problem is to be able to speak openly and honestly about the problem of terrorists who attack us, without attacking each other for speaking the truth.
Raheel Raza is President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, founding member of The Muslim Reform Movement, and an Advisory Board Member of Clarion Project. She is an award-winning journalist, a public speaker, an advocate for human rights, gender equality and dignity in diversity, and has appeared in numerous films including Honor Diaries and By The Numbers, which was featured on HBO.