The empire craves moral justification for its massive violence, greed and lawlessness. So it seizes upon a danger that does exist on Earth and amplifies that danger into a global threat. This manufactured monster becomes the moral justification for all the harm the empire does.
Awareness of this scam is a part of being a faithful witness to YHWH. This awareness isn’t the heart of the good news of Jesus, but if we leave it out entirely, we are easily distracted into endeavors and commitments that waste our talents and sap our energy.
In a prior post, I described this scam as “the empire’s salvation story” and said it resembles a criminal protection racket. That is, the empire strengthens and deploys the violent forces it then “saves” us from. In another post, I suggested the empire resembles “a fire department that covertly helps arsonists light fires around the town.”
To explain how this works, let’s look at four prominent instances of domestic terrorism.
An Egyptian national, Emad A. Salem, worked as an FBI informant in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot led by Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. Salem’s FBI handler initially instructed him to help assemble the bomb using harmless powder instead of explosives. But then a FBI supervisor intervened, changed Salem’s instructions and told him to use explosives. Salem felt huge guilt over the loss of life that followed, but was told by his FBI handlers to keep quiet.
A German national, Andreas Strassmeir, worked as an FBI informant during the 1990s among right-wing extremists in Oklahoma who wanted to take revenge on the federal government for deaths at Waco and Ruby Ridge. Strassmeir repeatedly traveled to Oklahoma City and was seen stringing wire in the Murrah Federal Building basement just days before the bombing. Yet the FBI shielded Strassmeir from arrest and facilitated his exit from the US without ever being questioned about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
During the fall of 2000, two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, lived in San Diego with an FBI informant. Although the CIA knew the two men to be terrorists, had long tracked their international travels and knew they had entered the US via Los Angeles airport, it claims it did not inform the FBI of any of this. The FBI says it had no reason to monitor the men’s activities.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of two brothers accused in the 2013 Boston bombing, had a very unusual relationship with the FBI and may have been an informant. The FBI says it first interviewed him in early 2011, concluded he was not a threat and closed the investigation a few months later. Russian authorities issued a second terrorism alert about Tamerlan shortly thereafter, and the CIA placed his name on list of individuals to be detained immediately if they attempted to leave or enter the US. Yet Tamerlan flew to Russia in early 2012 and had no problem leaving or returning in July, even after spending time with suspicious associates in volatile Dagestan.
After returning to Boston, Tamerlan openly engaged in provocative behavior. The FBI kept tabs on him (his mother says the FBI “were controlling every step of him”), but the FBI claims not to have recognized Tamerlan’s picture when it was widely publicized two days after the Marathon bombing.
Repeatedly, we see how the empire’s law enforcement agents could have prevented major terror attacks, but did not. Many call it incompetence, but that is only wishful thinking.
Here is my point: as we lose faith in the empire’s salvation story, we are liberated to put our faith in more constructive causes and our energy into more positive purposes. For me, this is the way of Jesus.