Radio Column

Asa Arkansas's Governor

Protecting Those Who Protect Us


Column Transcript

In the winter of 1993, a group of terrorists detonated a truck bomb below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Their plan was for that tower to explode, slam into the South Tower, and bring both towers crashing down to kill thousands of people.

Although six people were killed and more than a thousand were injured, their plan did not bring down the towers.

A year later, four terrorists were convicted of carrying out the bombing. Three years after that, two more were convicted. By then, by and large, the American people had forgotten about the incident.  But the terrorists did not change their target, and eight years after the first attack, the terrorists stuck again.

And we all remember what happened on 9/11.

In the summer of 2009, a recruiting facility in Little Rock was targeted by a terrorist in a drive-by shooting. The terrorist — a man named Abdulhakim Muhammad — killed one soldier and wounded another.  Once arrested, Muhammad said he had hoped to kill as many military personnel as he could; his car was loaded with rifles, handguns and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.

Later that same year, a military base at Fort Hood in Texas was attacked by a crazed army major and psychiatrist, who shot and killed 13. The shooter had communicated regularly with a known terrorist accomplice. Although the shootings were classified as “workplace violence,” many, including Sen. Joe Lieberman, called them a terrorist attack.

Last week, in another act of domestic terrorism, four Marines and a sailor were killed at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

There is a pattern here. Just as there was a pattern that led to the tragic events of 9/11. Terrorists don’t give up. They are patient.

Based on my Homeland Security experience, military facilities, especially recruiting centers, are going to be a recurring target for terrorists. We cannot ignore this deadly pattern.

That’s why last week I directed Major General Mark Berry, the adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, to arm full-time military personnel at his discretion. Our servicemen and women should be able to defend themselves should an attack like the one in Tennessee occur in Arkansas. Furthermore, in an executive order I signed earlier this week, I directed Major General Berry to relocate Arkansas National Guard members from the state’s storefront recruiting centers to the nearest armory while we improve security at these centers. The reason for this? Just think back to 2009. We must ensure that our recruiting centers are protected from the possibility of drive-by shootings.

History has taught us that the terrorists have targets in mind. And they return to those targets. We owe it to our brave men and women in uniform to provide them with the means to protect themselves and to place them in secure facilities.

The other day, an editorial cartoon appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It said, “What’s wrong with this picture?” In the panel on the left was a “highly trained military recruiter” who was unarmed. In the panel on the right was “everyone else”; everyone else was armed.

It’s long past time to correct what’s wrong with that picture.