It was a whole lot more understandable when the terrorists came from Over There.

Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan: God only knows what crazy notions were being stuffed in their heads at some radical madrasah halfway around the world!

Now how should we react when the latest suspect lives next door?

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Marcos Alonso Zea hasn't been convicted of anything. We presume his innocence, of course. But the American-born 25-year-old was arrested on Friday at his family's home in Brentwood and accused of being a suburban wannabe Islamic jihadist. Authorities say he plotted to join al-Qaida and travel to the Middle East, intent on killing people in the relatively secular nation of Yemen.

Why would anyone want to do such a thing?

Whatever may have motivated young Marcos, he is in some real sense one of ours. That's what early evidence suggests anyway. He attended Suffolk Community College. He has a brother in the U.S. Air Force. He seems to have spent a lot of time staring at a laptop computer. His parents came to Long Island from Spanish-speaking Guatemala and Colombia. With a bio like that one, how could you possibly tell him from thousands of other young local men?

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He was raised in the places that we were raised. He attended the same schools that we did. No doubt he watched the same movies and TV shows. Look at him in that cap-and-gown graduation shot, posed in front of a large American flag. What hints do you see there?


1. Finds a cause.

2. Gets famous.

3. Shocks the neighbors.

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4. Sees the world.

5. Goes away for a long, long time.

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Who stole 600 pumpkins from Lolly Rottkamp's Fox Hollow Farm in Calverton? Anyone want to confess to the pre-Halloween heist? If so, Riverhead Detective Tim Hubbard is on the case . . . If good fences make good neighbors, do better prenups make better exes? Nassau County matrimonial lawyers are planning an emergency save-the-prenup conference after an appellate court tossed a big one out . . . Now that Suffolk's new pet-store rating board is up and barking, will county bureaucrats start rating other private businesses too? Four blow-driers for super-stylish shopping-mall hair salon? . . . Who says summer has to end? LIRR's weekend "summer service" between Ronkonkoma and Greenport will now run until Dec 1. Meet you at Claudio's! . . . Those scalpers and resellers demanding $1,000 a ticket for Billy Joel's Wednesday-night charity show, how much of the profit will they be kicking back to Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Food Bank? . . . Shouldn't "stink bugs" hire a new branding consultant? The current one's not doing a very good job . . . Now that modeling-agency CEO James Muniz has been arrested on fraud charges, will parents start thinking twice before delivering their photogenic cuties to outfits like Hicksville's Model Talent Development? . . . With the opening of the Ideal Food Basket, New Cassel finally has a full-service supermarket. So how about a bank branch next? Citi? Chase? TD? Anyone?

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We have some smart young people around here. We get more proof every time the winners are announced at one of those brainy student contests. The latest are the eight regional finalists in the 2013 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Eight! Eight from George W. Hewlett and Herricks high schools and The Wheatley School. It isn't about the $100,000 in grand-prize money. It's about students who have very good reason to feel very proud. Despite all the complaining we do about the state of local education, it nice to know that somebody's learning something around here.


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