From my Bloomberg View column:
The terrorist who imagines himself to be not merely an agent of the aggrieved, but the salvation of his civilization -- these are the ones to fear. Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people July 22 in Norway because he believed Europe was under threat from Islam and multiculturalism, is the new archetype.
The ambitious terrorist of this moment in history seeks not simply to kill large numbers of innocent people, or to terrify an even greater number of people. He seeks nothing less than to provoke the thing we have so far mainly been able to avoid: a clash of civilizations.
Three attacks, in particular, I worry could have such world- changing effects. A plot against the Dome of the Rock is one.
Another would be an attack inside the U.S. of the kind that just took place in Norway -- an assault by a white, Christian extremist agitated by the imagined specter of worldwide Muslim domination, either against a government target, in the Oklahoma City and Oslo manner, or against a Muslim target.
A deadly attack prompted by anxiety about the building of mosques, for instance, would do irreparable harm to America's image as a diverse and welcoming refuge, and could trigger the clash of civilizations extremists (both anti-Muslim Americans and anti-American Muslims) so desperately seek.
Is this a possibility? Spend time on websites devoted to stopping the coming invasion of the American court system by Muslim law -- an invasion that exists only in the febrile minds of anti-Muslim agitators -- or visit the sites devoted to keeping mosques out of places like Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It's not hard to imagine that an unstable person with access to explosives would try to carry these campaigns to their logical conclusions.
Of course, the main terrorist threat to global security still emanates from Islamist groups: al-Qaeda, Qaeda affiliates and those inspired by the Qaeda message. But al-Qaeda itself has little ability now to launch a world-changing attack.
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