In the aftermath of Paris, we need to heed Forest Gump

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) November 20, 2015

In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attack killing 129 and possibly more, two lessons are worth noting-one of historical origin; the other mythological. 

The first took place in post-war Vietnam. 

As the post-war tourism wave hit Vietnam, among various war collectors' items that abounded were U.S. issued military identification "dog tags."  

They were authentically manufactured in U.S. government addressograph machines; but the tags were not wartime issued as the machines had been abandoned when the U.S. left Vietnam in 1975. Once Vietnamese entrepreneurs discovered the machines, they made the tags, subjecting them to a quick weathering process, and sold them to naïve tourists as authentic, wartime memorabilia.   

What relevance does this have to the Paris attacks? 

While details are still emerging concerning the attacks, two facts quickly came to the fore: ISIS claimed responsibility and at least one of the terrorists involved held a Syrian passport. These two facts are mutually supportive of each other. 

Just like authentically made but not wartime-made U.S. dog tags in Vietnam, ISIS has a similar capability to issue authentically made but not Syrian government-issued passports. 

This brings us to a second lesson.  

Mythology records how long ago the Greeks deceived the Trojans as they appeared to withdraw after a ten-year siege of Troy, leaving a huge wooden horse outside the city walls. Accepting the horse as a gift left by an enemy for a worthy opponent, the Trojans claimed their prize. Only later did they learn their folly as they were overpowered by Greek warriors hiding within. 

With hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe and soon to the U.S., Trojan horses are among them.  

Taking advantage of a Western culture that welcomes the oppressed with open arms, ISIS hides its operatives within the mass of refugees, providing them with passports and other official-looking Syrian documentation, positioning them to repeat the Paris attacks elsewhere.

And, it is not just the ISIS fighters hiding within a Trojan horse about whom we need be concerned.

What is most telling about a culture is how it treats its own. 

The West is opening its borders to refugees who are overwhelmingly young Muslim males (at least 70 percent) who fit the ISIS profile and who have abandoned wives and children leaving them to face alone the Islamists they themselves fear confronting. Yet this is acceptable within a faith in which women are deemed inferior and, therefore, warrant little attention other than meeting a male Muslim's sexual needs. It also is justified by Muslim clerics who preach few Muslim women make it to paradise anyway. 

Damning too is that there is a frighteningly large minority of Syrian refugees-despite fleeing from ISIS-who support the group's ideology.  

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies reported conclusions in "the largest public opinion poll conducted in the Arab region" that 13 percent of Syrian refugees sympathize with ISIS. Another 10 percent have a mixed or lukewarm opinion-i.e., one not entirely negative-of ISIS. Thus, among Syrian refugees alone, 23 percent would be susceptible to ISIS recruiting.   

This correlates very closely with another recent poll that reports 25 percent of Muslims already here in the U.S. believe violence against Americans in the name of global jihad is justified. 

An inherent danger of the Syrian refugee Trojan horse is acknowledged by FBI Director James Comey. When asked by the House Judiciary Committee how undocumented refugees could be vetted, he responded, "The only thing we can query is information that we have. And so if we have no information on someone, they've never crossed our radar screen, never been a ripple in the pond, there will be no record of them there. And so it will be challenging." 

It is doubtful the Paris attacks will curb President Obama's plan to ultimately resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S., among whom an estimated 25,000 ISIS sympathizers will be hiding within Trojan horses.

At a time America is engulfed in turmoil stirred up by protagonist groups such as Black Lives Matter and spoiled college students seeking safe spaces from reality, why invite into our fold a group that will only create real-rather than imagined-social ills and security risks for all Americans? 

Should the Paris attacks not result in the West putting the skids on Muslim immigration, the words of Forest Gump will prove most profound, "Stupid is as stupid does."

A version of this piece previously appeared on The Hill.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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