Beheadings show terror still a major issue

It’s happened again — two more times.

Eugene Armstrong was beheaded Monday and Jack Hensley was beheaded Tuesday after demands believed to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were not met by the United States. Armstrong and Hensley, along with Briton Kenneth Bigley, were kidnapped Sept. 16 from the home they shared in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood. The three men were in Iraq to work on reconstruction projects for the war-torn country. Bigley’s status is unknown, but he might face the same fate as Armstrong and Hensley.

Events in the last few days remind the world that the war against terrorism is not over, and it won’t be over for some time. Beheading has become the heinous outcome as Al-Zarqawi and his groups, Tawhid and Jihad, attempt to bargain with coalition forces to get what they want. This time they demanded that all female prisoners held in two U.S. prisons be released. The U.S. military said only two women are being held for their work on biological weapons.

According to, insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 135 foreigners in their campaign to drive out coalition forces and hamper reconstruction. American Nicholas Berg was also kidnapped and killed by the same group in April, and Thomas Hamill escaped these insurgents in May.

In the midst of one of the nastiest election years in history, candidates as well as the American public have lost sight of the real issues facing the United States and its allies. CBS recently received false documents regarding President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Army National Guard during the Vietnam War. This has topped the nightly news for the last several evenings.

Why are the campaigns dwelling on events from 40 years ago? I understand as voters, the American public must be able to trust the candidates, but we need to learn more about their platforms, not where they were at what time decades ago. We need to be reassured that the president will lead us forward and not backward.

With these two gruesome deaths and possibly one more soon, Americans need to stand together as one against terrorism, regardless of political stance. More than 1,035 soldiers have been killed in Iraq since March of 2003. These brave men and women of our country have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and safety. These soldiers have defined the meaning of bravery and honor, and this seems to have been put on the back burner because of the campaigns. Both Bush and Sen. John Kerry seem to have all the answers when it comes to the war in Iraq, but do they really?

Regardless of the outcome of the November election, the war against terror is a nonpartisan war. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or neither. Americans need to fight this war and not fight about the war from so long ago. Historically, the 18 to 24 age group has the lowest voter turnout, either because these young adults have no interest in voting or they’re not registered. Organizations like Rock the Vote and Choose or Lose are dedicated to educating young Americans about the candidates and the issues for which they stand.

Jenna and Barbara Bush and Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry spoke on behalf of their respective fathers at the “MTV Video Music Awards” last month in an attempt to reach these “stealth” voters. Although they may have impacted a good number of them, the candidates need to do the rest of the work. Most people in this age group care more about the present and future than the past. We care about why our friends from high school are fighting overseas, risking their lives. We care about terrorism and if terrorists will strike the United States again, and we care about our fellow Americans helping the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan and getting killed for it.

Elizabeth Mendez,The Lariat,Baylor University