Terrorism, Planes and Bureaucracy……

12 Oct

‘You may have been under the impression that since 9/11 flying has never been safer and you’d have been right, but not as a result of terrorism……’ 

Just How Safe is Flying……?

The chance of being involved in an air incident, terrorist or otherwise, is astonishingly small.  It is approximately 11 million to 1 or, by way of comparison, you are far more likely to die in a fatal road accident travelling to the airport or, die from natural causes in the time elapsed since booking your ticket and surprisingly, if you were involved in an accident your chances of survival are still around 50/50.  Nevertheless, you might imagine that the airlines have installed all of the latest technologies designed to detect a terrorist attempting to board and combined all of the worldwide intelligence available to disrupt an attempt; on either count you’d be wrong……

Technology……

Technology is always improving and has now reached the point at which a full body scanner is available that allows security staff to effectively ‘see through’ clothing; this sits alongside the traditional doorway metal detector.  Its introduction has caused controversy due to privacy concerns, although if you see the system in action the image the operator sees is akin to a 3D shop-front dummy.  Doubtless there are individuals who might ‘get off’ on seeing a computerised 3D image of fat middle aged business men but I’m sceptical they’d attempt to work their way up through the airport security business simply to get themselves into a position where they could become an imagine operator when all they’d need to do is log on, enter a few choice search terms, and voila, Google will provide them with all the material needed to satisfy their sick and twisted desires [other internet search engines are available, for now at least].

Baggage scanning has been around for years although was not routinely used on all checked in baggage until after 9/11.  Swabbing an individual’s hand luggage has also been around for many years but, like all security, relies on the instinct and training of handlers.  I have a friend who was caught out by this system when traces of Cocaine were found on his toothbrush by US immigration officials.  His explanation of the ten dollar call girl having used it the morning after got him out of that scrape; I’m not so sure how he explained it to his wife however!

Not all Airports are Equal……

The majority of the major hub airports have the security measures described above but smaller ones don’t and just how difficult would it be to hire a sightseeing trip whilst on ‘holiday’ with which to make mischief?

Information is Power……

Since 9/11 the airlines have cooperated by supplying lists of passengers to their allies.  The problem with lists is who goes on them and why.  The US has four such lists, the first of which is ‘persons of interest’ and numbers 600,000 names.  Bearing in mind the way in which Muslims name their children, there’s an awful lot of Mohamed, Abdul, Osama’s and combinations thereof.  Plus, as any victim of Microsoft will tell you, the software is only as good as the person who wrote it.  Taken into account that there are 1,423,500,000 people taking flights each year and you soon end up with information overload and one hell of a cross referencing task.  The list of misdemeanours that can get you onto the database is wide ranging and can be something as simple having been arrested at a student demonstration years ago.  There is also the problem of radicalised terrorists who have never had so much as a parking ticket and are unlikely to be flagged up by an automated system……

How Useful have the Security Systems Been……

Thus far not a single terrorist incident has been discovered with the technology on offer.  In December 2009 Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bring down Northwest Airlines flight 253 bound for Detroit on Christmas day.  His journey began in Ghana, changing planes at Schipol, Amsterdam, one of the worlds’ most sophisticated airports with all of the security systems discussed.  Having cleared security at both Ghana and Amsterdam he successfully boarded Northwest Airlines flight 253.  Throughout his journey he had a small package of an explosive called PETN in his underwear.  His plan was to inject a small amount TATP into the package theoretically resulting in a chemical reaction and explosion.  Thankfully, and solely down to luck, the bomb failed to go off and the flight landed without incident (discounting a pair of very scorched bollocks and DIY Brazilian).  The explosive, PETN, was the same explosive as Richard Reid, the failed shoe bomber, had tried to use in an earlier incident, leading to the extra security precaution of passing passengers’ shoes through the X-Ray device.  It also led to the restriction on the quantity of liquids allowed in hand luggage……

Failure to Act on Information……

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was not your stereotypical image of a suicide bomber.  He was the son of a successful banker, well educated, well spoken and not at first appearance a Muslim.  Following discussions with his father in which he expressed the view that his father’s work was ‘immoral’ and ‘un-Islamic’, his father became concerned that his son was becoming radicalised.  On November 19th Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father spoke with two CIA officers at the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria to express his concerns about his son.  The CIA added Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s name to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, the lowest threat category of the four lists used by US Intelligence Services.  No other action was taken and Abdulmutallab’s student visa was not revoked which enabled him to board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 without so much as a blinking computer icon……

A Lucky Escape……

Considering the intelligence available, the fact that Abdulmutallab evaded two airport security checks and a miscalculation of the amount of chemicals needed to explode the device, the December 2009 incident was indeed a lucky escape for the passengers of flight 253 which would have been destroyed on its final approach to Detroit.  But the fact remains; no amount of technology will make commercial air travel failsafe.  Intelligence is perhaps a glorified term for what is actually information and computer geeks have a term ‘GIGO’, which means garbage in, garbage out.  Probably the most effective security device in any airport is the human being at the gate.  They posses something that technology and computers don’t; instinct, and it is that which proves the most useful tool in the ‘war on terror’……

And One Final Thought……

Perhaps, if the ‘civilised’ countries of the West took a long hard look at what is going on in their own back yards and the effect that global consumerism is having on ‘the axis of evil’ there would be significantly less radicalised individuals and organisations hell bent on perpetrating headline grabbing acts of terrorism to highlight the inequality and hypocrisy under which we live.  Somehow, without the removal of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Paulson and the rest of the Neo-Conservative zealots, along with the World Bank, Federal Reserve, IMF, Bank of England, Central European Bank that they effectively control, halting the development in most of Sub-Saharan Africa and most of Asia, the trouble will continue conveniently categorised as ‘religious extremism’ even though 99.999% of Muslims are peace loving people going about their daily business just like the rest of us.

The Al Qaeda myth has been allowed to grow under the influence of the western media.  They started off as a group in Afghanistan under the leadership of one Osama Bin Laden, whose family are close friends and business partners of the Bush family.  Blamed for the 9/11 ‘false flag’ attack on the US they have now spread all over the globe.  Any pissed off Muslim is automatically labelled ‘Al Qaeda’ whether they have anything to do with them or not.  They are nothing more than a replacement for the ‘reds under the bed’ after the fall of the Soviet Union; the perfect enemy.  They come in all colours, from all countries, are of all ages and sexes.  In the PNAC document, written by the Neo-Cons a year before 9/11, they talk of a ‘war without end’ against an ‘unseen enemy’ and even the need for a catalysing event like a ‘new Pearl Harbour’ to rapidly advance their plans.  And hey presto……

Search for PNAC PDF to read their sinister plan……

‘Guess that’s me on the no fly list……’

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