Aaro Ponders the Thunderpants* Bomber
The trouble is that a pants bomb bringing down an airliner appears to be perfectly feasible. In late August of this year, strangely under-reported here (perhaps because of the holidays), a “repentant” al-Qaeda man managed to arrange a meeting with the Saudi anti-terrorist chief, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in Jeddah. The former terrorist, Abdullah al-Asiri, successfully passed through security checks, including airline-style metal detectors, and spent more than a day with the Prince’s security men, before gaining an audience. Then, when in bin Nayef’s presence, al-Asiri detonated around a pound of high explosives hidden in his rectum, triggering the blast with a mobile phone signal.
I wonder what Aaro's sources were here. The most complete story I could find was on Saudi-US-relations.org.
The king asked Prince Muhammad why was the terrorist allowed in without proper checks, to which the prince replied, “It was a mistake.”
Aaro: bomber so cunning he sneaked through security. Prince: it was a cock-up.
"The wanted criminal exploded himself during security inspection," the royal court said, adding that the prince escaped the assassination attempt with minor injuries. The bomb had been fixed to his body and that was triggered when the terrorist received a call from outside, according to Al-Arabiya news channel.
"Nobody else suffered any injuries," the royal court said. The prince later left the hospital after undergoing necessary tests and treatment.
Note that Aaro says the bomber triggered it; that source says it was someone outside. (I'm inclined to go with DA here: if the assassin had to go through so much security which would take an unpredictable amount of time, how would his accomplice/controller know when to call?) I'm no expert in anal, er, stuffing, but a pound of materiel sounds like quite a lot (assuming Aaro is right, and since it exploded, I don't think anyone can be certain). So this may have been as big as a bomb hidden in a rectum can be, and it hurt no one but the bomber. It's a bit of a leap to assume that a similar device can bring down a plane, isn't it? Maybe as DA suggests, the bomb is detonated "at altitude and against the cabin wall", but then maybe not.
The whole article is really just the usual reasons to be scared. I'm not sure what he calls a "truly murderous ideology" - Islam? Islamism? terrorism? Bombing weddings is pretty murderous too.
It's a lazy, even complacent, ironically enough, article, with lazy, complacent mistakes.
There are no undiscriminating suicide bombers among the world’s many environmental activists, or among the Iranian opposition.
Does he think the Iranian opposition are secularists, or is this leading example of doublethink this century? Iran has suffered suicide bombs which clearly targeted the government. Or are suicide bombers who hate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard not pernicious? I suppose since that bomber wasn't officially with the opposition (he was probably part of a Sunni group; the Iranian resistance are Shi'ites, like the government) and because his target was the armed forces, you could say the bomber wasn't indiscriminate. But if you buy that, you also have to allow that hijacking a plane and flying it into the Pentagon isn't discriminate either.
It really is an exaggerated fuss. And here are some figures. And here is a real security expert: Bruce Schneier.
The way we live is open enough to make terrorists rare; we are observant enough to prevent most of the terrorist plots that exist, and indomitable enough to survive the even fewer terrorist plots that actually succeed. We don't need to pretend otherwise.
Like flies to shit, the comments are really ugly.
It wouldn't make any difference, have you been through Heathrow lately and seen who is on the security & Immigration desks.
I would like to know, who is guarding the guards???
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I don't like the BNP but if they are the only party willing to speak out against this growing problem then how can you ask British people not to vote for them?
Er, David, I think he called you "the BNP." I'd be offended by that, myself. Last word to Kevin Drum:
The relentless desire of conservatives to do al-Qaeda's PR for them never ceases to amaze me.
* Thanks to Twitter. The 'undabomber' is also a good name.