I spent two rather formative years -- between the ages of 14 and 16 -- in Morocco. Living there on Air Force bases, but spending as much of my time as was feasible in Marrakech or Casablanca because...well...they were just more interesting, I encountered terrorism long before most of you had ever heard the word.
There was little of it in Morocco itself, because *as a result of terrorism* it had gained its independence from France some time earlier, but it was a rare cafe or bar in which I didn't meet people who had seen it and felt its effects. Then I ventured with a friend to Algeria over a long school holiday, naively telling our parents we were going elsewhere, but instead (even more naively) head- ing into a certifiable War Zone. Algeria was still fighting for its independence, in a three-sided war (the French, the Arab Algerians, and the "Pied Noirs" or "black feet" -- third- and fourth-generation Europeans who knew that they would be thrown out of the country if it gained its independence) that was bloody and awful. My friend and I were sitting at an outdoor cafe in Algieria one day when a truck rolled by. It was one of those trucks with a sheet of canvas covering the back of it, and as it passed our cafe, the canvas was thrown back to reveal a tripod-mounted machine gun, with two guys manning it. It opened fire on the cafe we were sitting in, and we dived for cover behind quickly-overturned marble tables, as did the other patrons. As it turns out, no one was hit by the flying bullets, and after the truck passed, my friend and I got up, righted our table, and looked around. What I saw made a BIG impression on me. The French and Arab patrons sharing the cafe with us had not even spilled their drinks. They "took them down with them" when hiding beneath the tables, and then emerged with them still full after the incident was over. THAT made an impression. These people lived with a level of everyday terrorism that makes the things JohnR and other fearful Americans worry about pale by comparison. But they *didn't let it fuck up their day, or change their lifestyles*. I have seen the same thing in many other European countries I've lived in since. I've been in Paris after bombs exploded, and watched the city in the days after- wards. Nothing changed. No one altered their schedules or adjusted their lifestyles in any way. I've been in Spain after the train bombing there. Not only did no one succumb to fear and paranoia, several *million* people marched in protest, and brought down the govern- ment that stupidly first tried to blame the attack on Basque separatists. What makes terrorism WORK is becoming TERRORIZED. The goal of terrorism is not to kill people. It's to instill fear in those who survive, and make them so fearful that they no longer feel capable of living their everyday, fulfilling lives in the ways they want to live them. Smart people do not fall for this. Dumb people do.