Instant communication has it's drawbacks.
First responders are often completely wrong.
I’m not talking about police or paramedics. I’m talking about those Twitter and Facebook users who rush to announce an incident is not Islamic-related terrorism.
After Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City for example, a Twitter account called “New York City Alerts” tweeted: “Breaking Update: NYPD official confirms, the incident in downtown Manhattan is NOT terror related.” Which turned out to be totally false.
Later, they tweeted: “Per PD sources, a fight between two truck drivers led to one truck hitting multiple pedestrians, and one truck driver opened fire.” Again, not even close to the facts.
We’ve seen other examples like this in recent years. Calling the 2015 San Bernandino terrorist attack “workplace violence,” or social media users misidentifying the Charlottesville killer, which forced a Michigan man and his family to flee their home because of death threats.
Sometimes it’s people on the far Left or far Right trying to spread false information that helps their own agenda. But sometimes it’s just people trying to be the first to report something and get a bunch of re-tweets. Either way, it’s not helpful.
In 1844, a New York Herald reporter wrote about the remarkable new telegraph technology and said, “There is nothing now left for invention to achieve but to discover news before it takes place.”
Guess what? We’ve invented it – they could’ve been describing our current fake news and social media. Ironically, our instant communication doesn’t help us get to the truth faster, often it does just the opposite.
This week, Congress fretted about the ads that Russia polluted our Facebook feeds with last year. Some of the ads may have looked convincing, but the ad can’t hypnotize you and cause you to press the “like” or “share” buttons. We must be more discerning than that. The fake news problem isn’t simply about shutting down whoever’s creating the fake content. It’s also about Americans not recognizing propaganda.
Sure, maybe it’s difficult to discern sometimes, it might require extra effort. I say this often because I believe it’s important advice: do your own homework. If we can’t get a handle on how to responsibly navigate something like social media, wait until A.I. gets further down the tracks. Then we’re in real trouble.
Then telegrams might sound like a great option.
Remembering those who lost their lives in the NYC attack.
It had been decades since Ariel and his high school friends got together to catch up.
The 30th anniversary of their graduation was approaching and Ariel came up with a fantastic plan.
A successful steel mill owner in Argentina, Ariel had some money saved away for a once in a lifetime holiday.
He decided he would pay for all his classmates to travel to the Big Apple and celebrate—New York style.
The group of nine friends were having a blast doing touristy things, like riding bikes in downtown Manhattan, when the unimaginable happened.
A terrorist, hell-bent on murdering whoever he could, rammed his truck into the bikers.
Five of the friends were killed.
In addition to the five friends from Argentina, three others lost their lives on Tuesday.
Nicholas Cleves was a 23-year-old software developer who had recently started his first job out of school. He had the world at his feet.
Darren Drake was a 32-year-old project manager for Moody’s Analytics. His parents knew something was wrong when they couldn’t reach him hours after the attack. They frantically drove to Bellevue Hospital where their worst fears were confirmed.
Anne Decadt was a 31-year-old from Belgium who was vacationing in New York with her mother and two sisters. Her 3-month-old and 3-year-old sons are now motherless.
Because of one man’s selfish and delusional fantasies, these eight people are dead. Their families are suffering unthinkable pain.
And the scary thing is, this attacker’s fantasies are shared by thousands of others. He is not alone. And this will happen again, if we continue to allow it.
He wanted to kill children.
“He did this in the name of ISIS,” said the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the NYPD. The disturbing details of how Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant turned terrorist, planned and executed his attack are starting to become clear. The narrative gives a frightening look inside the mind of a cold-blooded and calculated killer.
Saipov had been planning his attack on the Manhattan West Side bike path for a year. We still don’t know when or how long he’d been radicalized, but for any new and aspiring ISIS recruit, getting instruction from the Caliphate is actually pretty easy. Just pull up an app on your phone or hop onto the internet. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda give instruction and direction online that acts as a sort of demented University of Phoenix for terrorists.
Several months ago, ISIS began telling their followers to stop coming to Syria and Iraq. They could be more effective by staying in their home countries. ISIS began directing their soldiers to use vehicles as weapons in order to stay off the radar of law enforcement. Saipov took this instruction, and made the decision around September to use a truck.
On October 4th, he searched online for a Home Depot store in New Jersey. He noted a location that rented trucks and continued his preparation. On October 18th, Saipov began looking for the best spot to execute his attack. He wanted to inflict the maximum amount of casualties, but not just any people would do. He wanted to make a statement. He looked up “Halloween in NYC.” You can only imagine what he saw as he clicked through image after image of trick or treaters walking down the West Side path. Saipov specifically chose his location with hopes that children would be among the carnage.
He rented a practice truck on October 22nd, and began making dry runs. On October 28th, he scoped the target location one final time. He was ready. He carried a stun gun and 3 knives just in case he lived long enough to use them. Saipov originally planned to hang two ISIS flags on the front and back of the truck, but changed his mind at the last minute. He didn’t want to risk attracting attention before entering the walkway.
Inside the truck, police found a handwritten note in both Arabic and English. It read “No God but God and Muhammad is his prophet. Islamic supplication. It will endure.”
We’re entering a new era in the war on terror. Where people can be radicalized, taught and instructed from the comfort of their own home anywhere in the world. They’re smart, they’re calculating and they’re devoted. The terrorists have evolved. The question now is, how to we evolve to stop them?