Monday, January 04, 2010


Could it be that we're giving the mass-murdering fundamentalists just what they want?

Forget my naiveté but something doesn't quite add up over the security panic that followed last week's failed terror attempt to blow up a transatlantic airliner.

Britain has joined the US and other countries in toughening up checks at airports. Full body scanners, hand luggage checks and no toilet access an hour before landing are amongst some of the measures introduced to tame the new wave of psychosis that is hitting the western world.

Now. Let's say that your house was broken into once and, hypothetically, you decided to take extra security measures to protect it. Iron bars on the bedroom window, armoured glass fitted with welded steel hinges, a special 24/7 CCTV guarding the room and a 10st stainless steel padlock to round it all off, are all concrete measures that would set your mind at rest.

However, with the initial excitement out of the way comes the realisation that all of the above may just be an expensively futile exercise. The bedroom may be safer than a fortress, but front door, living room, kitchen and all other entry points are as vulnerable as they were before.

Similarly, one wonders whether the current security theatre is being a little bit crook-eyed. You may now have to have your anus x-rayed if you're boarding a flight, but absolutely anything and anyone is free to stroll on and off any train or hop around the tube network (in London alone there's a daily ridership of around 3 million people).

Just look at the records. Sure, the last ten years have seen the bloodiest most traumatic terror attack ever (9/11) alongside a couple of well-publicised attempts coming from the sky (the 'shoe bomber' as well as the 2006 Walthamstow plot).

Sadly, however, there's also been a painful record of terror attacks on metros, buses and trains (Madrid 2004 and London 2005- plus failed attempts) as well as explosions against specifically targeted buildings (i.e. Casablanca in 2003 and Bali twice, in 2002 and 2005).

There's also a second point. I'm not for a second belittling the scale of what that spoilt fanatical dickhead was doing onboard the Amsterdam-Detroit flight last week. But, bearing in mind that terrorists want to achieve hysteria, panic and mayhem of the largest possible scale, hasn't the press at large handed it to Al-Quaeda on a tray?

Press blackouts were tried in the past, both in the fight against terrorism in Northern Ireland and at the height of the RAF and Red Brigades' campaigns in Germany and Italy respectively.

What if governments and security forces around the world set up a concerted plan not to give Al-Quaeda the oxygen of publicity, unless of course there were damage and casualties to report?

Wouldn't the blackout deal at least a partial blow to the campaign of fear and hatred that the Islamic funda-mentalists have been inflicting upon the world?


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

You've been blogging like mental since I've been away, very prolific indeed.

Happy New Year to you.

claude said...

Hey! Welcome back and happy 2010 :-)

Anita said...

The number of flying passengers killed in the last ten years is 267, which is those onboard the aircrafts that were turned into deadly weapons on Sep 11 2001.

Since then, nothing. The number of flying passengers every year is 2.5bn people.

If we thought and behaved rationally, we would conclude that
the risk of being killed on a plane by a suicide bomber does exist, but it's microscopically tiny, not even remotely similar to the risk of ending up splatterd against a lorry or to die of food poisoning (1809 people a year in the US of A).

But if an ET heard the government, watched the news or read the papers, giornali, he would think there's a massacre of flying passengers going on each day.

This is why it's called “terrorism”, because with minium effort some people can achieve huge psychological results, generating fear that turns our society upside down and forces nations into expenses and a load of hassle.

Stan Moss said...

Wise words, Anita.
Happy New Year everyone.