Sunday, October 31, 2010
The Inkjet Bomb Plot
The latest manifestation of the Religion of Peace involved a number of explosive devices utilizing ink toner cartridges as containers..some set to explode in midair ala' Lockerbie and two who were mailed to Chicago area Jewish synagogues.
The toner cartridges were an ingenious way of getting past the scanners,using an innocuous and frequently shipped item to get past the scanners.
A FedEx package intercepted in Dubai and a UPS package stopped in England were both constructed out of close to a pound of PETN explosive powder hidden inside the toner cartridges. PETN is the same explosive used in the failed Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was trained inYemen. The amounts of PETN discovered in the bombs in Dubai and England were seven or eight times greater than the amount used in the Christmas Day bombing .
Had a plane exploded in mid-air and crashed in the populated areas of Nottingham, Leicester or Derby, all within a 10-mile radius of the airport, the death toll would have been huge.
"The parcel was prepared in a professional way where a closed electrical circuit was connected to a mobile phone SIM card hidden in the printer," said a Dubai police statement. That means that the devices scheduled to go via air freight were designed to be detonated remotely, so there were obviously local jihadis in England and probably in the US who were part of the plot.
The packages all originated in Yemen, and were allegedly prepared by al-Qaeda, or one of its affiliates. I say allegedly because at this point, the brand name 'al-Qaeda' and the tactic of Islamist terrorism has become so widespread that attributing it to al-Qaeda has simply become a rhetorical convenience.
Part of the problem in Yemen is that history is repeating itself.
Abdullah Ali Saleh, Yemen's dictator has long been the recipient of US aid to the tune of $150 million per year in military aid, training by US personnel and a matching amount in humanitarian and development aid. Most of the military aid and training hasn't gone to fight al-Qaeda, but to shore up the 32-year reign of Saleh from his political enemies. In fact,members of Saleh's clan have been the main recipients of the weapons and training.
There is an openly operating al-Qaeda base in in the Yemeni province of Al Gouf, in the high desert just to the south of San'aa, the capitol.US and Saudi drones have both transmitted intel on the base. It's where Ibrahim Hassan Al Asiri, the Saudi Arabian bomb expert and planner of the latest attack is reported to be stationed, and where the Christmas Bomber was trained.Yet President Saleh categorically refused to allow the US to land Marine counter terrorism forces and Delta Force commandos from the USS Boxer to take the base out, or to allow US aircraft to overfly Yemeni territory to attack it.
If this sounds suspiciously like the situation in AfPak to you, only on a smaller scale, that's entirely correct. A great deal of US blood and treasure could have been saved in the US had simply gone into Afghanistan after the Embassy bombings in 1998, put some boots on the ground, destroyed al-Qaeda's bases there,and taken a slew of prisoners to be interrogated forcefully and then left. Instead, we simply allowed it to fester...just as we're doing in Yemen.
America used to operate differently when someone had the bad sense to try and attack us.
So far, the Obama Administration's response has been to dispatch teams to Yemen to train Yemeni security personnel in better techniques designed to detect bombs of this kind. Given how al-Qaeda and Islamists in general have infiltrated all areas of Yemeni society, that's unlikely to be effective.
There are several inconvenient truths we can garner from this, if we haven't already.
First, the entire rationale for us going into Afghanistan - to prevent it from becoming a failed state and a haven for Islamist terrorism ( now mostly lumped together for political correctness under the term 'al-Qaeda') is flawed. Far more terrorism has originated in Pakistan than ever originated in Afghanistan.There will always be another failed Islamic 'state' to take on the role of training ground and enabler..not to mention the radicalized home grown jihadis now being created in the West by a whole network of Saudi funded radical mosques and madrassahs.
Second,until we make the consequences for attacking us or aiding and abetting those who do far too high for these countries to bear, we will continue to live on a knife edge. As long as we refuse to confront the established Islamic nation-states that fund, harbor and encourage ideological jihad against the West, all our sophisticated and expensive counter-terrorism strategies are simply a matter of playing whack-a-mole, and the game will never end. Eventually, we're going to miss one and a relatively inexpensive jihad attack is going to cost hundreds if not thousands of lives.
As far as the home front, the problem is not entirely one of security. I think by now most astute observers have pretty much figured out that Islam is Islam, and that while a great many Muslims merely desire to live peaceful lives the ideology is what it is, and we are eventually going to have to come to terms with that and find ways to control the spread of radical Islam in the West.