15 Years Later, Another Terrorist Breaks Through

A Personal Perspective

Ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, other terrorists have been attempting to inflict further damage on our city and psyche. For 15 years, they have tried and failed to break through—but the NYPD, FBI and other agencies have blocked them. But on Oct. 31, a lone wolf terrorist sped down a Manhattan bike lane striking dozens of people, leaving eight dead and more than 12 seriously injured in his dastardly wake.

The reported Uber driver rented a Home Depot truck in New Jersey for the purpose of wreaking havoc in New York. Among the dead and injured were a number of old high school friends from Argentina who were celebrating their 30th reunion.

If they graduated high school 30 years ago, then their median age would now be 58. How absolutely dreadful that in the midst of reveling in the joy of being together, a terrorist robbed some of them of their lives. Normally, old school friends attend each other’s funerals one at a time in old age. Not five all at once.

Another victim was a 32- year-old man riding to get into shape following bariatric surgery, while a recent college graduate and the young mother of a 3-month old baby were also killed. The young mom and her own mother were visiting from Belgium. Now, her mother will return home with her daughter’s body and become a mom to the victim’s infant grandchild. We have sunk low as human beings when we can create such tragedy.

Most of us will never understand what motivates anyone to kill. We will certainly never understand what drives anyone to attack people going about their business. Whether it’s a foreign-born terrorist or homegrown gun nut or racist killing people protesting against hate groups, we will never understand this.

But in the midst of all that terror on Tuesday, heroes emerged. As usual, the NYPD and other first responders rose to the occasion. No matter our disagreements with the NYPD on other matters, we have to give credit where it is due and acknowledge the fine job that they have done these past 15 years in keeping our city safe.

Our city has thought of every possibility and potential spot for a terror attack and blocked it. Who would have thought of a bike lane? But a terrorist did and he caught us unaware. Some people take the opportunity to live in the United States almost as a sacred trust, while a handful use it to kill and destroy.

Since police officer Ryan Nash shot and helped to arrest the suspect—who now wants an ISIS flag flying over his hospital bed—we will be able to have a trial. He’s lucky that he was caught in America. If this had happened in some other countries, the hospital staff would have given him something to remember. Instead, we’re giving him first-rate medical care in our first-world facility. And he wants to fly a hate flag over the bed that we as taxpayers are providing for him.

He has now been charged with “federal terrorism offenses” and that is absolutely appropriate. He will be tried as the terrorist he is—and, if found guilty, he will get what he deserves. Let’s make an example out of everyone who attacks us and is caught.

Gone are the days when we can just travel or go out without giving such things a second thought. We cannot stop going about our business or else they win. Just as we rose again after 9/11, we will keep rising now. Law enforcement will dream up new ways to block attacks. Only a twisted person lives his or her life to create death and destruction.

But good will always triumph and this particular loon will get what’s coming, if he’s found guilty.

Meanwhile, let us all keep our wits about us as we go about our daily business. As New Yorkers, we are made of tough stuff and will get through this as well.

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