(photo by Andres Kudacki, AP)
by Diane Rufino, November 3, 2017
On Halloween Day, October 31, an Islamic jihadist, a heavily- bearded 29-year-old Uzbekistan demon drove a rented pickup truck down a crowded bike path near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, targeting, striking, crushing, and killing eight cyclists and pedestrians and injuring twelve. Of the eight victims, six were foreign tourists and two were American. The incident is the deadliest terror attack that New Yorkers have seen since 9/11.
It has been four days and we still haven’t spent time learning about the victims and the families who are suffering from a senseless terrorist attack and from the political malfeasance of our government. They deserve our attention; they deserve for us to know who they were and what kind of individuals they were and how much they were loved by others.
Those killed in the terrorist attack have been identified as: Darren Drake, 32, of New Milford, N.J.; Nicholas Cleves, 23, of New York; Anne Laure Decadt, 31, of Belgium; and Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi, all from Argentina and all aged 48-49.
Darren Drake worked at the World Trade Center, just blocks away from the attack. His father described him as “The most innocent, delicate kid in the world.” At the hospital where he learned of his son’s death and had the heartbreaking task of identifying him, commented: “You don’t know how hard it is to see someone you’ve loved with your whole heart for 33 years lying dead.”
At 23, Nicholas Cleves was the youngest victim and only New Yorker to die in the attack. He lived near the site of the attack in Manhattan’s trendy West Village and worked as a software developer. He had just started his first job out of school. As his friend, Bahji Chancey, described: “He was a really, really kind, not heartless, intelligent and curious person. We always had conversations about what he was studying at school.” His high school issued its condolences: “He was the most decent, kindest, human being, and just the nicest person to have around. He was kind, caring, curious, interested, and a great friend. He always had a kind word when you would pass him in the hall, and the biggest smile, and always offered to help, no matter the situation.”
After high school, Cleves enrolled in classes at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he majored in computer science and minored in physics. As a university student, Cleves studied Italian, worked as an IT assistant, and tutored students in astronomy. Philip Glotzbach, the college’s president, said in a statement posted Wednesday on the college’s website: “An incident of terrorism that takes the lives of innocent people anywhere in the world touches each of us in our fundamental humanity. But the effect is more pronounced, and far more personal, when our community is directly linked to such a horrendous event.”
Anne Laure Decadt, who traveled to the US from Belgium, was married and a mom of two young sons – just three years old and three months old.
The 5 victims from Argentina were childhood friends and were visiting New York City in celebration of their 30th high school reunion. They had been planning the trip for years. As teenagers, they had bonded in the halls and classrooms of the Instituto Politécnico, a technical high school in Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city. They graduated from the school together in 1987, and on Saturday, October 28, eight of the former classmates gathered to fly to the United States to celebrate their milestone reunion. They were united in life and united in death. Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, called the group “model citizens” and made clear that “there can be no place for gray areas in the fight against terrorism.”
My heart goes out to the people of New York City and to the families of those killed in cold blood by yet another Islamic terrorist. As anyone knows who has lived or visited NYC, it is the truly the city that never sleeps. It never sleeps because its people are full of life and energy; they want to do things, see things, take part in things. It’s full of culture, entertainment, education, business, history, technology, architecture, excitement. It’s the reason people all over the world travel to visit her. It is profoundly tragic and unacceptable that terrorists among us cannot and are not being flushed out and exiled. They are not Americans but enemies. It is unacceptable that radicalization and ideology-motivated violence upon one another is permitted in this country – a country that was once founded on Christian love, peaceful coexistence, unity, and service to one another.
In this Brave New World that America has become, the brave are ordinary citizens who take their lives in their own hand when they dare to venture out on our American streets, in our American cities, dare to take the subways or airplanes, or take part in celebrations and public holidays, or go to concerts or nightclubs. The brave are our first responders and our law enforcement. This is not the country we want. We want the country we once enjoyed before these animals and barbarians came here to harm us.
To Senator Schumer, who’s ingenious mind thought to actively bring in individuals, without any merit-based assessment or background search, and all the other members of Congress who joined him… You career politicians willingly put diversity before safety, and put politics before common sense. Your job is to keep the country safe and NOT to re-populate the United States and engineer our social fabric. This is what happens when self-important politicians re-define their roles and the role of the government in general.
Make no mistake, the evil perpetrator, the assassin of innocent Americans, Sayfullo Saipov, was plucked from Uzbekistan for no other reason than to represent a population from the Middle East that is under-represented here in the United States. This is called social engineering. Saipov became a legal US resident seven years ago, under Shumer’s program, the Diversity Lottery Program, that should have been repealed as terrorism began escalating in the Middle East towards the end of the 20th century (1990’s) and certainly in conjunction with the Patriot Act following 9/11. In their infinite wisdom, our legislators provided a beauty of a program that was able to bring potential and actual terrorists into our communities in the aftermath of the 9/11 NYC terrorist attack.
As the government knows, or should have known, Uzbekistan exports a high percent of terrorists, jihadists, and ISIS sympathizers and there is a good reason for it. First of all, Uzbekistan borders on Afghanistan, a hotbed of jihadist activity and radicalization. Second, although the temptation and the recruitment for radicalization is all-too present, the country has a long and notorious record of restricting the religious practices of its majority Muslim population. For example, all clerics are government vetted; all madrassas are government controlled and infiltrated by undercover informants, and until recently, children under 18 were banned from attending mosques. Pilgrims to Mecca have to go through a rigorous government vetting process and are then accompanied on the journey by government minders. Uzbekistan’s post-Soviet ruler, Islam Karimov, who died last year, outlawed Islamist political parties and imprisoned and tortured dozens of religious activists. The government keeps a “black list” of people it has decided are religious extremists – including Islamic jihadists and ISIS-sympathizers. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, “Those on the list are barred from obtaining various jobs and travel, and must report regularly for police interrogations.” Until the country’s new president shortened the list back in August, it contained some 18,000 names. [See Julia Ioffe’s article] Yet Uzbekistan continued to be a country included in the government’s masterful “diversity program.” The lack of concern for America’s safety is incomprehensible.
How bad of a monster is Saipov? As he lay recovering in his comfortable hospital bed, supported in his medical treatment by the American taxpayers, he continued to profess that he was proud of what he had done. He even requested to display the Islamic State flag in his hospital room. He was motivated to carry out the ISIS-inspired attack (carried out to the T according to its “playbook”) after watching a video of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he questioned what Muslims in the United States were doing to respond to the killing of other members of their faith in Iraq. I ask, which individuals are most likely to respond to recruitment such as that? Christians? Protestants? Baptists? Jews? The common sense answer is that it would be those from the very region pouring out such radicalized individuals, stemming from an interpretation of the religion of that region.
As if that isn’t bad enough, Saipov was on a Homeland Security watchlist but somehow he slipped through the cracks. How did that happen? Even more, how often do we hear that happen? We talk about a vetting policy when it comes to immigration, but we know that a policy, like our federal immigration laws, are merely words. It takes enforcement to give meaning to them. Without enforcement or even the competence to carry it out, the laws and policies are merely talking points. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry schools a Rental Car agent:
Jerry: I don’t understand. Do you have my reservation?
Rental Car Agent: We have your reservation, we just ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Rental Car Agent: I think I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. You see, you know how to ‘take’ the reservation, you just don’t know how to ‘hold’ the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them.
The most important part of an immigration program is its enforcement. Supremely delegated to the federal government, Americans expect its enforcement to be diligent, judicious, and efficient. Otherwise, amend the Constitution to leave the task to the individual states.
In light of the string of terrorist attacks here in the United States and the on-going recruitment and radicalization of Muslims by terrorist groups, and in light of the diversity-related disfunction that is dividing our communities and college campuses, eroding our First Amendment guarantee of Free Speech, inciting endless meritless protests and civic disruptions, and posing safety risks, is it so hard to institute a common-sense policy when it comes to immigration criteria: In deciding who comes into the country, why don’t we look for individuals (no matter what their background is) who WANT to be Americans rather than look for individuals simply to BE Americans.
Julia Ioffe, “Why Does Uzbekistan Export So Many Terrorists,” The Atlantic, November 1, 2017. Referenced at: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/uzbekistan-terrorism-new-york-sayfullo-saipov/544649/
Max Radwin, Anthony Faiola, Samantha Schmidt and Amy B Wang, “Old Friends from Argentina Reunited in New York; They Died Together in a Terrorist Attack,” The Washington Post, November 1, 2017. Referenced at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/01/five-old-friends-from-argentina-reunited-in-new-york-they-died-together-in-a-terrorist-attack/?utm_term=.649373933dea
Renae Merle and Marwa Eltagouri, “New York software engineer killed in terrorist attack had a ‘rare capacity for emotional IQ’,” The Washington Post, November 2, 2017. Referenced at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/11/01/of-the-eight-killed-in-new-york-only-nicholas-cleves-called-it-home/?utm_term=.a67173a074c7