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Wednesday, January 20, 2010 

The illusion of safety.

Amid all the predictable over-reaction to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's successful attempt to set fire to himself, the first thing to go out the window was any sort of perspective. We are now after all fast approaching the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks, which also marks the last successful attack by takfirist jihadists on a Western city. Not that al-Qaida and its franchises haven't tried to attack or haven't been plotting; it's just that all their attempts have either been spectacular failures or have been successfully prevented.

While America supposedly worries that this otherwise inconsequential island has the highest number of al-Qaida operatives in the West, they don't seem to have noted how, even if accurate, just how incompetent they are. First we had the 21/7 group, whose chapati flour bombs sadly failed to rise (surely explode? Ed), the liquid doom plotters, who needed to be tried twice before a jury was convinced that the main three were going to target aircraft, and where it has never been successfully proved that they were ever going to be capable of constructing a viable explosive, even if they had the necessary material, and then, and most humorously, we found ourselves threatened by two geniuses who thought that they could make a bomb by simply filling a car with patio gas canisters without realising that they needed either a detonator or an oxidiser to create an explosion that was going to actually hurt anyone. Instead, they, like Abdulmutalab succeeded in only harming themselves rather than anyone else.

No, instead we have politicians to do the harming for us. Admittedly, the "underpants" bomber's attempted attack was more serious than the Glasgow airport duo's failure, both for the reason that it focused attention on the deteriorating situation in Yemen, but also because he used proper military explosives, even if they also failed to detonate. It is though unclear whether even if he had created a successful detonation he would have managed to bring the plane down; he may well have killed both himself and some of those seated around him, but the plane could well have limped home, close as it was to its destination. The key fact is though that he failed, and that once such a method has been attempted, it's unlikely to be repeated. Not even the morons "who love death more than we love life" tend to repeat themselves once they've failed once; instead they somewhat innovate. Project Bojinka became the liquid bomb plot, similar but involving suicide bombers and with a different more obtainable explosive. Richard Reid's attempt led to Abdulmutalab's, and in turn will likely lead to a further attempt along the lines of the failed assassination of the Saudi prince Muhammad bin Nayef by Abdullah Hassan Al Aseery, in which the explosive might well have been inside his anal canal, although some have since suggested it was sewn into his underpants ala Abdulmutalab.

Is there any point then whatsoever to today's "package of enhanced security measures"? It seems doubtful, especially the ludicrous stopping of direct flights between Britain and Yemen, as if that'll somehow stop anyone travelling between the two countries instead of just inconveniencing them somewhat. It's also unclear just what use a "no-fly" list will be when almost all those who have attempted attacks in this country have either been British citizens, been here since childhood or here legitimately, such as the Glasgow attackers. As for the full-body scanners, Abdulmutalab went through rigorous security in both Nigeria and the Netherlands which failed to detect his explosives; as it simply isn't possible to go over everyone with a fine tooth comb there's still no guarantee that a bomber wouldn't get on a flight in similar circumstances. The only part of the proposals that might help is the further sharing of intelligence and the security services joint investigation team to be set-up.

In short, this is the same old illusion of safety that we've always had. If the intention is to do something rather than doing nothing, then the government has succeeded. If instead the intention was to increase the fear factor, then it might work amongst a few people; more likely though is that it will just further infuriate those who regularly travel. If al-Qaida in Yemen's real motive was to further discourage air travel they might have succeeded, although then again, the government seems as determined to do the job just as well for them.

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"Not that al-Qaida and its franchises haven't tried to attack or haven't been plotting; it's just that all their attempts have either been spectacular failures or have been successfully prevented."

I'm just a tad surprised that you seem unable to take that last itsy-bitsy step and accepting the self-evident fact (self-evident that is to those who study other than 'official' history) that the reasons for the failures you cite really ought to include judgement by the higher reaches of our SIS Establishment that another 'successful' terrorist attack has not yet proved necessary in order for prosecution of the absurd 'war on terror' to continue. Operation Gladio is perhaps the most glaring of the undisputed modern examples of the syndrome but there are a vast number of others from our colonial past - the most recent and glaring example probably being the Mau Mau insurgency.

Why oh why are even the most gifted and otherwise sceptical of political analysts incapable of climbing out of the box they inhabit?

Something to do with needing to earn a living; needing the esteem of ones peers; staying off SS vetting black-lists -that sort of thing - not to mention the very idea of our own 'protectors' stooping to such Machiavellian evil?

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