Patrick Boylan is the courageous and clear-thinking gentleman who caused a stir last year at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Institute of Security Studies by daring to speak the truth about the causes of Islamic terrorism. I had the honor to spend some time with him several months ago when I spoke in Las Vegas, and was impressed by the breadth of his knowledge of Islam and the jihad ideology — knowledge born both of study and personal experience, as he grew up in Pakistan.
I have deleted the references to place in this article for a variety of reasons; suffice it to say that this piece appeared in an American newspaper, and that this course is being taught in an American university — which is heartening news.
“Know your enemy.”
That’s the lesson Patrick Boylan intends to impress on over 40 students enrolled in [… ] University”s new four-year Homeland Security program.
And because the United States hasn’t made it a point to get to know the terrorist enemy they face, Boylan — Paddy as he likes to be called — worries the government won’t succeed in the global war on terror.
“The book talks about a sophisticated global terrorism aimed at America,” Boylan told his second class of the morning on Friday, pointing out what he considers flaws in their public policy textbook’s chapter on homeland security. “What’s wrong with that statement?”
No, it’s not the word sophisticated, and it’s not the word global, he told his 13 students during the ensuing discussion. Finally, he heard the answer he sought; that terrorism isn’t aimed solely at Americans.
“We shouldn’t think we”re so important that it’s only against us,” he confirmed in his unique, clipped brogue, reminiscent of his Irish father.
Leading a brand-new program, instituted […] as one of three possible baccalaureate degree programs, Boylan said he appreciates the opportunity to build the homeland security department from the ground up. He also hopes that when he’s graduated the program’s first class of students, he”ll have provided the world and the country with future security experts who not only know who their enemy is, but won’t be afraid to say so.
“On some levels the government doesn’t tell us the truth,” said […] a student […] who’s already earned an associate’s degree in law enforcement. “And they try to be all politically correct and neutral.”
“They don’t realize we have to take sides and we will offend some people,” agreed […] a 20-year-old […] student from St. Francisville, Ill. “We have to be politically incorrect.”
An important lesson to learn, says Boylan, who, like the fictitious teacher in the late 80s film Dead Poets Society, above all plans to challenge his students to question authority and think for themselves.
“We have to change the way we think,” said Boylan. “It’s the old saying, you must send a thief to catch a thief. We don’t think like them so we don’t understand what motivates them, but we must learn to.”
Joking that he’s the only Irish-Catholic Jew ever to be born in a Muslim country, Boylan speaks only in generalities about his past, saying he’s received several death threats from different groups who don’t like what he believes and says about Islam. A former geologist, the middle-aged professor appears in excellent condition, says he grew up in countries that breed terrorism, and speaks with humor about a subject he believes is deadly serious.
“I”ve been writing about terrorism and counter-terrorism since long before it was cool,” he laughed, sitting in his new office […]. “They told us for years this was coming — the Mujadin in Afghanistan used to say today the Russians, the Americans tomorrow.”
To him, statements like that, and studying the Quran, the text by which many Muslims live — and die – offered plenty of warning that not only the United States, but every non-Muslim in the world is a target. To him, it’s pretty darn simple, and he can’t understand why Western intelligence services insist on trying to pursue and defeat the enemy as if this were traditional warfare, and the enemy a common criminal, one mistake he doesn’t plan to make.
“This is an amazing opportunity to develop a homeland security program and do it right,” said Boylan, who earned a Master’s degree in the discipline at an American university. “This won’t be just glorified criminal justice.”
[…] [S]tudents are apparently attracted to the subject, as the department has drawn more students than the university”s other four-year degree programs now offered in technology and health care. “It’s the strongest of the three by far,” said […] [the] dean of Boylan’s division. “We were lucky to get him because there’s not a lot of people in this area yet with a good background in this field, and a degree.”
So the fact that Boylan arrived […] just two weeks before school started was a blessing […] “We originally thought it would be excellent if we started with 25 or 30 in the program, and we started with over 40,” he said.
All of the students, along with Boylan, have also now gained university support for a field trip of sorts. During the fall break in mid-October, the homeland security division will travel to New Orleans, set up a base at Camp Indiana — where the state’s police, conservation officers and emergency management support team camp — and learn first-hand what it’s like to deal with the aftermath of devastation; the same kind that could come with a terrorist attack or a tornado.
“Unfortunately, the scenario offers my students a living laboratory,” Boylan said. “What better place for them to learn than where Katrina hit.”
Especially since Boylan is pretty vocal about the failings of every level of security in and around New Orleans, from the local level on up. He scoffs at blaming the president alone, or recently resigned Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown. To him, the problems began at the local level and continued to the top, and “Bush was not the only one at fault.”
The problem, he said, is that for too many federal employees, protecting the country from disasters natural or not, is just a job. They have a plan that doesn’t work, and they don’t think about why it won’t work until it’s too late, he said. Meanwhile,though a number of officials at the state and federal level have taken responsibility for the mistakes made in the Gulf Region, Boylan asks whether that helps those who suffered, or assures citizens that they truly are secure.
“I personally don’t believe the government knows what it’s doing, because you can’t fight an enemy you don’t know,” he said. “Right now the terrorists are laughing at us, and anyone can see we can’t respond to a multiple city attack when we couldn’t handle the situation in the south.”
That’s why he challenges his students to think, and think outside the box of accepted policy. Because American policy he tells them is quick to lay blame at home, rather than admit and regroup to fight an enemy taught to slaughter those who aren’t Muslims; who are, by their reckoning, infidels.
“In junior high I studied the writings of Malcolm X and looked into the Nation of Islam,” admitted [a student] who also said while he studied Islam for brief time, today he remains a proud Catholic. “The structure is very tight-knit and parts of the Quran teach them to kill others but not to attack each other. A Muslim doesn’t go after a Muslim. We need to understand they”re not a bunch of crazies.”
And until the western world admits and accepts it’s a religious war and not a political one, especially not one to blame themselves for, events like Sept. 11 and the London subway bombings will continue, according to Boylan.
“Number one we have to understand that Jihad is a religious obligation, and we have a lack of knowledge about who they are and what they”re fighting for,” he explained. “Racial profiling was the biggest mistake ever, because it’s not racial, it’s religious.”
But when his students graduate they will fill the void in a wide-open career field now being stymied, in his opinion, by antiquated ideas and tactics. The students and future leaders of homeland security will have the knowledge, experience and understanding to better protect their families and their communities even if they decide to become police officers, firefighters or work on the federal level. And since he believes that anthrax and other biological weapons are unlikely to be used, his students will learn why.
“They won’t use what they think will hurt their people,” he said. “And they”re done with planes. Where is there no security now? In subways, and that’s what happened in London.”
Believing as he does, that current homeland security policy is no policy at all, but just a way of “ripping off the taxpayer,” Boylan hopes his students will be willing to tell the truth. Because without truth, there is no security, he said.
“I hope to join FEMA or another federal agency so I can make a difference,” said […] a military police officer […] now studying under Boylan and helping organize their trip to Louisiana. “It’s there we can change the perceptions, and if a failure exists in planning, we can do what’s right.”