Opinion

Commentary: Watch out for those 'terror babies'

From East Texas, every baby looks like a future terrorist.

At least, that's what U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, has described lately, warning Congress and CNN viewers that foreign terrorists are sending pregnant women to this country so their babies can be "raised and coddled as future terrorists ... to help destroy our way of life."

Of course, there is always the possibility their babies might grow up to be something really scary. Say, a U.S. representative from Tyler.

The idea that al Qaeda might be planning some sort of long-range birthright jihad brought a laugh from the Texan who might know the most about radical Islamists: The New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the 2006 bestseller The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

Wright created a one-man play based on his book, and that has been made into a documentary that will premiere Sept. 7 on HBO.

After 9-11, he spent years in the Middle East and south Asia interviewing more than 600 people about al Qaeda.

He heard about plots that made his skin crawl.

But no baby invasion.

"That's far-fetched, to say the least," Wright said by phone Friday, home in Austin after a series of New York interviews about the HBO movie, My Trip to Al-Qaeda.

"I spent a lot of time around al Qaeda, and I never heard of anyone making a plan like that."

He cracked the same joke often heard after Gohmert's bug-eyed, screaming appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 last week.

"I don't think he needs to worry about terror from babies," Wright said.

"It's what they do in their 2s that we should worry about."

Unlike any members of Congress, Wright spent five years interviewing Islamic fundamentalists about their religion and radical Islamists about their plans.

His book and the movie capture the desperation of young Muslims, the poverty and the conflict between them and the region's wealthy rulers.

The movie is directed by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, who also directed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room from a book by Fort Worth writer Peter Elkind. Gibney shows Wright telling the story, then takes the viewer into the streets.

Wright's message: "Al Qaeda is a real threat to America -- but it is even more a threat to Islam," through attacks on other, less radical Muslims.

"And look how much of our freedom we've handed over since 9-11. That's something all Americans need to be cautious about."

Not babies.

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