As more details become available about the plot to bring down Delta/Northwest flight 253 on Christmas Day, the comment by Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano that ” the system worked” seems to grow more ludricous. And, the facts of the incident should puncture a few more myths about the war we are in.
The system did not work. What stopped this incident from becoming a costly terrorist attack were two things, a faulty detonation system and alert passengers who took action. Our security systems failed, but the response of the government and the airlines seems to be to establish more stupid and ineffective procedures and systems on top of the ones we already have.
Here’s what we know. The terrorist is a 23 year old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from an upper class family. His father is the former economics minister of Nigeria who just retired as chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria. He was educated in London, as was his son, who studied engineering at University College in London. While there, he lived in a $3 million dollar flat, currently being searched by Scotland Yard.( BTW, the idea that poor and oppressed people are the source of terrorist fodder is a leftist myth, always has been. Islamic radicalism is a disease of the well-to-do and their offspring, often students who have or are studying in Western countries. Check the resumes of the 19 hijackers, or that of Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri ).
He traveled to Dubai to continue studies in the summer of 2008 after graduation. But earlier this year, he informed his family he wished to go to Yemen in order to study Arabic and Sharia law. His parents attempted to persuade him not to but he went anyway. When the family threatened to cut off funding, he told them everything was being paid for anyway, that he didn’t need their money. He then informed them in November that he wanted nothing to do with them anymore. That’s the last they heard from him.
The father said he alerted Nigerian and American officials. His son’s name was entered on a terrorist watch list, but not the no fly list. Officials said there was not enough derogatory material to ban him from flying into the US.
So, here’s a guy from Nigeria, whose own father reports him, on a terrorist suspect list, who is allowed to fly into the US. But there are a few more interesting facts here that no one is really talking about. His ticket was paid for in cash, $2,831, and he checked no baggage when he checked in for the flight in Lagos. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought post 9/11, two warning signs authorities talked about were cash payments and no checked luggage? Hello? Is anyone really out there? I, an American citizen, have to take my shoes off and have my briefcase searched, after checking bags and using a credit card online to pay for my ticket, but a Nigerian citizen, whose name is on a terrorist suspect list, pays cash and checks no luggage, gets on somehow with a bomb? This is a system that worked?
And now, new regulations and procedures are being talked about. No getting up from your seat one hour before landing? Whiskey Tango Hotel, this guy WAS SITTING DOWN when he attempted to detonate his bomb. While over US airspace, flight crews may not make any announcements concerning the flight path or the plane’s position over cities or landmarks. WTH again, do people like Napolitano really think it matters where the terrorists blow themselves up? ’ Ahmed, I will only blow up the infidels if we are over the Space Needle, otherwise, I will not detonate the bomb’. Millions of innocent travellers will have their lives inconvenienced with meaningless and ineffective policies and procedures that will do nothing to prevent future terror attacks and only promote a false sense of security.
Perhaps the most important lesson to learn is that the best and most effective security policy concerning terrorists and airplanes is passengers who are alert and courageous. Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film producer, was the passenger who tackled the terrorist after hearing a bang and seeing smoke from his seat. He dove over four passengers and tore the device off Umar’s leg, then dragged him out of his seat and restrained him with the help of others. Perhaps we should put Jasper in charge of the TSA. He did more to counter the terrorist threat in this case than anyone in our government.