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Forget guns, bombs, landmines, suicide vests, and the rest. Terrorists have a simple and lethal weapon that is so obvious that it is hard to detect. They’ll drive a truck – a regular, workaday truck.
Tuesday’s terror attack on the streets of New York City that claimed eight lives – the deadliest strike since 9/11 brought down the two World Trade Center towers just a few blocks away-was hardly unexpected. Everyone saw it coming. Since 2014, there have been more than a dozen such truck attacks, mainly in Europe, that have claimed nearly 150 lives – 84 in one such attack in Nice, France, alone.
But there was nothing that US intelligence or law-enforcement could do about it. There are an estimated 15.5 million trucks in the US and they constitute the lifeblood of American commerce. Beyond trucks, there are some 300 million more automobiles of assorted kind.
Millions of truckers are of immigrant stock (well almost all Americans are of immigrant stock, for that matter), as was Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant who went loco. How does one detect or determine which trucker will flip when for what cause, or what caused him to flip? After all, US authorities are still are a loss to figure out what caused the Las Vegas shooter to snap.
From all accounts, trucker who mowed down eight people to death on a New York street — five of them tourists from Argentina, demonstrating that no on is safe anywhere – had a pretty routine driving record. So mundane that he even passed an Uber security check. He had been in America for eight years, and was well regarded. No one spotted his radicalization – in America. He had millions of weapons to choose from – all legal and licensed.
The US – and President Trump’s – response has been on expected lines. ”We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” Trump tweeted, later adding, ”I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”
We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
But what happens if the immigrant is radicalized after he has passed an extreme vetting program? Or if he is a native-born, home-grown perpetrator? The establishment argument is that at the very least, it will discourage the potential radicals from the world’s troubled hot-spots from making a legal beeline to the United States.
Consequently, the first casualty the latest attack – since the US can’t decommission 15 million trucks – is likely to be the Diversity Visa Lottery, which gives out 50,000 visas every year to foreign nationals from a multitude of countries. The program is already under the gun, but now its demise is almost certain.
Ending the program will not adversely affect Indians – in fact it will work to the advantage of Indians because the original intent of the program was to have a more balanced inflow of immigrants to America from all over the world, particularly smaller countries, instead of it being weighed in favor of countries with huge population such as China and India.
The policy allowed proportionally larger number of immigrants from countries such Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Algeria, Iraq etc to get the Diversity Visa through a lottery that kept out Indians and Chinese. It is also what allowed a Uzbek national to mainstream himself in America with a Green Card in less than eight years – while more than a million Indians wait for more than a decade.