In breaking news this morning, suicide bombers have killed seven people in Afghanistan and wounded 17, most of them Afghan children on their way to school. According to a Taliban spokesman, their attack was in response to President Obama's visit to their country. The president signed a strategic pact with Afghanistan yesterday and spoke to our troops and then to the nation. He cannot announce such trips beforehand due to security risks, a fact that illustrates the ongoing threat posed by Islamic terrorists.
The president's trip coincided with the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. Has his death made us safer? Yes and no. Killing bin Laden proved our military's ability to find and defeat the leaders of Islamic terrorism. However, in the year since, terrorist groups have spread into eastern Afghanistan, parts of Africa, southern Yemen, and Pakistan. Microterrorism remains the greatest threat against Americans at home, as "lone wolf" extremists are much easier to recruit and deploy than larger groups.
For example, seven people were arrested yesterday in Britain on suspicion of financing terrorism. Five self-described "anarchists" were arrested in Cleveland for planting what they thought were demolition charges on a bridge. In February, an immigrant from Morocco was arrested near the U.S. Capitol building; he was wearing what he thought was a suicide vest packed with explosives. And an Afghan immigrant who admitted planning to bomb New York City cinemas went on trial in Manhattan recently.
Can we expect this threat to diminish in coming years? No. Polls indicate that a growing number of militant Muslims around the world are willing to die for their faith, convinced that killing you and me is a defense of Islam required by the Qur'an. What can we do? The War on Terror is military – we must obviously remain vigilant in defending ourselves. It is economic and political – we must work to improve conditions in countries where our enemies are recruiting the next generation of terrorists.
Above all, it is spiritual – we are fighting an enemy that seeks to impose its fundamentalist version of Islam on the entire world. Jesus described their motivation: "A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God" (John 16:2). Why? "They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me" (v. 3). Does this mean that the conflict would end if they knew Jesus?
Is this possible? More Muslims have become Christians in the last 15 years than in the last 15 centuries, many after seeing visions and dreams of Jesus. If radical Muslims came to Christ, how would they change? If they truly made Jesus their Lord, they would abandon retribution for reconciliation (Matthew 5:38-42), replacing an ethic of hate with one of love (John 13:34-35). Imagine the results in the War on Terror and the larger Muslim world.
What is our role? Jesus told us to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Have you prayed for radical Muslims to know Jesus yet today?