US should deepen crackdown on terrorism after San Bernardino attack

Community members and students light and hold their candles as they attend a vigil for the victims of the deadly San Bernardino terrorist attack. Photo: Los Angeles Times

The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino resembled a slaughterhouse on December 2, when 14 people were killed and 17 others were injured in a mass shooting by an AK47-wielding couple. The bloody attack has cast a shadow of sorrow and horror on the United States, with the Christmas approaching.

After the San Bernardino attack, US President Barack Obama reiterated his stance on shooting accidents, which he called "unique" in the world, advocating that the US must promote gun control legislation to reduce gun violence, and must carry out stricter scrutiny on the background of people entering the country.

Obama has made numerous public statements on shooting cases since he took office in 2009. And his call to make laws to control gun use seems to be a lip service, as he will step down in January 2017.

But there is one thing that the Obama administration should take seriously: crackdown on terrorism.

So far, the US has not come to a conclusion on whether the December 2 shooting is a terrorist attack or not because of the suspects' choice of a remote area as the shooting site, a different tactic from before when they habitually selected densely populated downtowns, such as New York and Paris, to attack in a bid to create a sensational effect. The other reason why the nature of the attack cannot be defined is that the couple worked in San Bernardino, thus the possibility of a rage caused by labor disputes cannot be ruled out.

However, there are some clues to the terrorist nature of the accident. Firstly, the attack took aim at innocent people and was waged in an extremely cruel way. Secondly, the attack was executed by more than a person with a planned scheme. Thirdly, the suspects used lethal weapons in the attack. During a search of the suspects' residence, police found 12 explosive devices and 4000-5000 bullets. Fourthly, the attackers seem to have had certain connection with overseas extreme religious groups, because one of them went to Saudi Arabia in the first half of the year.

After the attack, an officer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that the US is facing a bad situation as the terrorist attacks are stemming from inside the country.

In recent years, terrorist forces, headed by the Islamic State, have committed serious crimes around the world, including kidnapping, shooting, bombing and causing air crashes. After a series of attacks in Paris last month, the Islamic State declared that it would target London, Washington and Rome.

The US has not suffered large-scale terrorist attacks since the September 11 attacks. But it dose not mean that the US can relax in its effort to combat terrorism. As a major Western country, the US has always been a key target for terrorist groups. The lifting of gun control makes it easy for lawbreakers to get weapons. In addition, the US adopts an open-door policy, which allows terrorists to sneak into the country, where there are many sympathizers of the extremist groups. For example, the Islamic States recruited a great number of members from the US, some of whom grew up in the country.

The anti-terrorism policies adopted by previous US administrations had crucial faults which have actually promoted the growth of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, let alone smashing them.

Therefore, on the one hand, the US should not make the same mistake as it made in "invading" Iraq. On the other hand, it must deepen its crackdown on terrorism especially by working with foreign governments.

(The article is translated by Ding Yi.)

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