Don’t Worry About These Terrorists

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With the events of today [Webmaster’s note: Scotland Yard disrupts major terrorist plot to destroy aircraft travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States. All toiletries are banned from commercial aircraft.], I’d like to put up a historical parallel:

The Barbary pirates were pirates that operated out of Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, Sale and ports in Morocco, preying on shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea from the time of the Crusades as well as on ships on their way to Asia around Africa until the early 19th century. Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa known as the Barbary Coast (a medieval term for the Maghreb after its Berber inhabitants), although their predation was said to extend throughout the Mediterranean, south along West Africa’s Atlantic seaboard, and into the North Atlantic, purportedly as far north as Iceland. As well as preying on shipping, raids were often made on European coastal towns. The pirates were responsible for capturing large numbers of Christian slaves from Europe, who were sold in slave markets in places such as Morocco.

The comparison is apt. These Barbary pirates were Islamic and were nation-less. Many countries thought the Barbary pirates had and would always exist. They gave them tribute so their ships could pass freely.

When the U.S. became a country, it had no navy to protect its merchant ships. In 1784, the U.S. Congress gave $60,000 as tribute to the Barbary States (this was significant money back then).

But the Barbary pirates kept attacking which prompted the building of the United States Navy. The U.S. Navy then went on a series of wars along the North African coast from 1801 until 1815.

The United States Marine Corps also played significant role in these wars which is why, today, the opening of the Marine Hymn has…”to the shores of Tripoli”.

Whether they are attacking ships or airplanes, the villains play the same role in history. Thomas Jefferson had no mind to appease, as he launched the navy after them, said:

“If the enemy shall put to death, torture or otherwise ill-treat any of the hostages in their hands,… recourse must be had to retaliation as the sole means of stopping the progress of human butchery, and… for that purpose punishments of the same kind and degree [should] be inflicted on an equal number of their subjects taken by us till they shall be taught due respect to the violated rights of nations.”