Kathleen Parker
(ITAL) "We're in trouble, big trouble. America is too open a society to prevent this type of attack. We're too trusting, too faithful, and if you think about it, too honest. America is complacent. We should have been working to prevent this from happening. "A well-planned series of attacks by a small group of foreign nationals, with the help of American sympathizers, and backed by all the money necessary is capable of causing major damage to the American people as well as to America's resources. "Why hasn't the FBI reacted already? And better yet, why didn't America's considerable intelligence resources know of the impending jihad and stop it before it began?" Almost anyone could have made those statements in the days since 911. Instead, they were written by Max Woosley in his novel, "Holy War" (American Book Classics), an eerily prescient work of fiction published in June that made nary a ripple on the book charts. Who could have guessed that, in a matter of months, his book would seem prophetic? No one but Woosley himself, whose insights must seem like a curse these days, and, of course, Osama bin Laden. Indeed, the plot of "Holy War" so closely parallels recent events that you can't help wondering whether Woosley had access to inside information. He assures me that's not the case. He's just an observant American who became familiar with terrorism and radical Islam's hatred toward America during his years living abroad while in the U.S. Air Force. Woosley's story revolves around a central character, Calvin Dary, who is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. His columns about a radical Islamic terrorist network get him kidnapped by a terrorist cell as the cell begins a series of strikes within the United States. As a captive audience to each assault, Dary is forced to write an eyewitness account, which the terrorists fax to his newspaper for publication. Dary's dilemma is how to warn America of what's coming next while trying to stay alive. Although no airplanes fly into the World Trade Center, other similarities are chilling. The fictional terrorists had come to the United States five years earlier. They had studiously infiltrated neighborhoods and institutions, play-acting as ordinary Americans while despising the company they were forced to keep. In a telling scene, one of the terrorists eats a hamburger - just to fit in - while finding it disgusting. He finds Americans equally disgusting. To him and his compatriots, we are fat, weak, immoral and repulsive. It's easy to hate and kill us. One difference between current reality and what Woosley has imagined - at least as far as we know - is that the fictional terrorists employ mercenary Americans as co-terrorists. As the attacks progress across the continent, the Americans conduct all public business, such as buying food and gasoline, while the Arabs keep out of sight. Woosley effectively makes the point from the Islamic perspective that Americans - and capitalist society - are motivated by greed and self-gratification. By comparison, the terrorists are responding to a higher, moral calling. "The will of Allah is of primary importance; our lives mean little," says one of Woosley's Arab characters. "If we fail, others will follow until our mission has been accomplished." The lesson of this novel, a one-sitting page-turner, is that America has become weak and vulnerable through complacency and blind trust. We haven't bothered to notice our enemy, much less "know" him. Anyone surprised by what happened on 911 simply hasn't been paying attention. Russell J. Suchy, a retired Air Force colonel and former chief of security operations for the Strategic Air Command, wrote in the foreword to Woosley's book: "One of the most basic premises of successfully fighting a war remains: 'Know your enemy.' "The American psyche does not comprehend the concept of Jihad, where merely saying 'kafir' (infidel) reduces any non-Arab man, woman or child to something akin to a mosquito to be swatted without so much as a momentary regret." So we are learning. When Suchy wrote those words in 2000, we were coming up on the 10th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. At the time, Suchy wondered whether we'd be ready for the terrorist attacks sure to come, and whether America would be successful. His answer now seems a mandate for America: "Not," he said, "if we do not understand what drives such primitive levels of human destruction."

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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