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back to article Trouser-bomb clown attacks - how much should we laugh?

As the smoke clears following the case of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the failed Christmas Day "underpants bomber" of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 fame, there are just three simple points for us Westerners to take away. First: It is completely impossible to prevent terrorists from attacking airliners. Second: This does not …

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Joke

Be sure to write a will,

before packing your pants with explosives.

Otherwise you could die intestate!

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It's got more to do with scaring us

The authorities already know how tiny the dangers are. But they desperately need "attacks" like this one so they can pretend there's a justification for all the attacks on our civil liberties and get themselves a nicely cowed populace. You can see how much the Yanks are taking the piss by the fact that one of the charges was "attempting to use a WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION".

Al Qaida and the like are analogous with Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984. A bogeyman to frighten the people into accepting the autocracy of our governments.

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Silver badge

Bah!

Once again, rampant yankophobia shuts down the brain and blinds a commentator on the facts.

I'll explain for the slow amongst us: There are many Catholics in Detroit and also many such people were on the plane itself. Had this attack worked, it is likely that some would have been hurt and unable to go to church on Sunday.

The weapon would, for those people, have destroyed the Mass.

Please think things through before putting fingers to keyboard next time.

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But still...

There would be more potential cuts if we cut down airport security. We still have a duty to make it as hard as possible and to keep people as safe as possible. And bringing in the new airport scanners isn't a bad way of doing that.

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WTF?

Nah

No, Sorry, the point, that you missed, went that way.....

Lewis has it spot on.

The remaining threat is vanishingly small. It is just not practically possible to eliminate the terrorist threat entirely. Just look at the number of people that died in the west from terrorism compared to other factors of sudden death: drunk driving, electrocution, heart attack, and many others. Terrorism just doesn't even appear on the radar.

If I decided tomorrow to go into a shopping centre with a big knife and hack a load of people to death, there is absolutely nothing anybody could do to stop me. The only thing that keeps our society together is a certain amount of trust and most people's abhorrence of such acts.

The issue comes down to a case of what it is reasonable to do to prevent possible attacks given their likelihood, the cost and the effect that those measures have on our daily life.

I for one think that full body searches and expensive scanning machines are a step too far.

What happened to the British wartime spirit? All the way through the Irish terror attacks and WWII, the message was "They will never change our way of life. We will continue living as we always have despite their best efforts."

The aim of these groups is not practical disruption, it is psychological disruption and fear.

Unfortunately, the politicians and the media are doing that quite nicely for them.

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Megaphone

We're Not Afraid

"What happened to the British wartime spirit? All the way through the Irish terror attacks and WWII, the message was "They will never change our way of life. We will continue living as we always have despite their best efforts.""

That spirit is alive and well.

In the days following the London bombings of 7th July 2005, the spontaneous response from the people was, "We're Not Afraid". It wasn't politicians, police, etc, who led that response. It came straight from the people.

http://www.werenotafraid.com/

It's our so-called leaders, the government, etc, who are the cowards.

When terrorists see how we, the people, respond to terrorism, they see how futile their efforts are. Even when they kill 52 of us, and injure many more, we don't just say, "We're Not Afraid", we actually do Keep Calm and Carry On. It's a response that achieves far, far more than any amount of body scanners, no fly lists, Big Brother databases, etc, etc, can do.

But when the terrorists see our government react to terrorism by diverting excessive resources to fighting terrorism, they see that as an opportunity to do real economic harm. And likewise when it comes to our rights and freedom. This cowardly government is stupidly playing right into the hands of terrorists. And they're too stubborn, reactionary and cowardly to see that.

When we consider the billions being diverted from elsewhere in the name of fighting terrorism, it becomes clear that far from reducing the effects of terrorism, this government is actually vastly amplifying its effects. This government has successfully turned what was originally a failure - the so-called 7/7 bombings in which 52 people were murdered - into a great success for the terrorists.

By diverting such significant resources away from elsewhere into counter terror stuff, this government might actually be attracting more terrorism as a result.

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Paris Hilton

Security theatre

"...keep people as safe as possible. And bringing in the new airport scanners isn't a bad way of doing that."

Bollocks! These checks and scans are just security theatre. They don't do anything useful. All they do is give the stupid the illusion that Something Is Being Done to make them feel safer. Oh and it gives the goons who operate these scanners the opportunity to steal your nail clippers and gran's perfume in the name of "security".

Tom 15 obviously didn't read the reports which quoted airport officials and security experts who said that these new scanners would be unlikely to have detected the pants bomber. IIRC one of those experts was from the company that makes the scanners.

Besides, has there ever been a recorded instances of these checks actually finding something really nasty like explosives or firearms?

Paris icon 'cos she knows a thing or two about getting probed.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice one!

Nice to see a sensible level-headed look at the threat of terrorism for a change.

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Anonymous Coward

So.

So, can we drop the security circus? The governmental privacy attacks? Can we go back to carrying RFID- and biometric-free passports, get rid of the silly databases that help about as much as watchlists, can I have my customary litre bottle of water back?

No, of course we can't, because none of that has anything whatsoever to do with security, only with scaring us-the-citizens into warn and fuzzy feelings of security because after all, the government is pretending to do something.

If there is one thing that terrorists have shown us, is that our governments are spineless and untrustworthy. They've failed us when we needed them most, and instead took our liberties and our privacy. And they're not giving any of it back.

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Thumb Up

Well said!

That's all.

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Anonymous Coward

And of course...

Any half intelligent future terrorist will avoid all security problems and secure a much larger kill by casually walking up to the airport security line with a backpack full of good old fashioned dynamite and nails.

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Big Brother

Is Your Comment Lawful?

Is your comment lawful? Or are you committing a crime under the Terrorism Act 2006 by posting your comment?

http://opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060011_en_1

For example, in Section 1, "Encouragement of terrorism":-

"(2) A person commits an offence if—

(a) he publishes a statement to which this section applies or causes another to publish such a statement; and

(b) at the time he publishes it or causes it to be published, he—

(i) intends members of the public to be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism or Convention offences; or

(ii) is reckless as to whether members of the public will be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate such acts or offences."

I haven't read most of that Act (or other terrorism-related Acts generally) so I don't know what else your comment might possibly fall foul of.

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Once again...

... Another well written article from Lewis that goes against the usual hype from the government and the mass media and tells it like it really is.

Why oh why is Mr Page not on every news program in the land explaining this to the Sun readers?

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Re: Once again

Why oh why is Mr Page not on every news program in the land explaining this to the Sun readers?

Because he uses words of more than two syllables, but mainly because he won't get his tits out for the lads.

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Lewis and Sun readers

This is a brilliant plan but falls down with Lewis' unprovoked use of wit, sarcasm, punnery, semicolons and three-syllable words.

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Terrific piece

I salute you (although I may outrank you).

Ex-RAMC

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Excellent article

A great read Lewis, a timely reality check thanks!

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Kinicker-Bomber-Glory

Most sensible thing I've hear since the bombing well done, supposed to be flying Sunday, and only worried by the weather.

Always did wonder why when the conversation was about more "Bobbys on the Beat" its all countered by "Intelligence led Policing" but its the other way around with airport security?

BTW I did just Invent the "Knicker-Bomber-Glory" all on my lonesome, make it stick people!

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Knicker Bomber Glory

Either that or Fruit of the Boom.

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Coffee/keyboard

What do you mean 'Title required?'

You sir owe me a new keyboard!

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Coat

Jeez...

Most countries use either dogs or electronic devices to detect the small amount of explosives that is left on your person or luggage, so unless you modify the explosive particle so that it 'smells' differently (which is likely to reduce it's detonation speed unless you're a good chemist, so no joy), or can hermetically pack it so that no particle can pass through the packing, and you remember to clean the outer surface and your whole body, then you're out of luck.

And anyways, why would you do all this if one can make an IED from stuff which you can buy after security check?

Also, for the information of any law enforcement out there not liking what I've just written: I'm not a terrorist, neither do I plan to be. But once I finish my studies and know much more, I'll be the guy who charges you exorbitant fees for consulting your new security systems.

Mine's the one being checked by overzelous security guards, possibly planting some RDX in there as was the case with that poor Slovakian chap recently (at least their government was brave enough to admit that it's them who planted it).

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So instead, of course, the TSA gropes people's genitals.

Seriously, somebody -- the Reg, I think -- published their procedure update they did in response to Mutallab's comedy attack, and now everybody gets patted down with a special concentration on the "abdomen and upper thighs area", I believe it was.

Cowards. Fuck 'em, I'll take the train.

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Coffee/keyboard

I quite agree....

I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 70's and completely agree that these 21st Century terrorists are clowns compared to the IRA of the 70's and onwards. Sure they were riddled with informers but so was the police force and to a much lesser extent the army, and they still managed to carry out an extended campaign including blowing up Maggie's cabinet in Brighton, Warrington, Canary Wharf etc. etc. etc. without resorting to suicide attacks.

There can only be a finite number of these easily persuaded mental defectives that are willing to blow up their own underpants and themselves with them. But if they can't even manage that properly I reckon we have much more to fear from bird-strike. It's just another complete over-reaction to something we can never hope to prevent. If someone is willing to kill themselves in order to kill some people, and they are smart enough or just have some imagination (or read enough Tom Clancy etc.) they will be impossible/extremely difficult to stop.

I for one pissed myself laughing about this Pant-Bomber all through Christmas Day. Does anyone have his address so I can bill him for a new keyboard?

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Megaphone

Something to keep in mind

The whole motivation of an Islamic extremist committing a suicide attack is to die a Martyrs Death in a Jihad, that is to die protecting his/her religion. Thats the only way they will go directly to Paradise and get the 72 virgins (or become on if its a she).

In Christianity suicide is the an "unforgivable" sin. Do it and you go straight to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect 72 Virgins.

Murder is forbidden by the Quran, as it is by the Torah and Bible and just about every other religious text out there. In the case of the Torah, Bible and Quran its spelled out pretty clear by the 4th commandment, you know the one "Thou shalt not kill."

And yes, the Commandments are part of the Quran and Torah as well as the Bible. In fact Islam, Judaism and Christianity share >90% at their foundations, its the ->interpretation<- of the 90% that causes people to think the rest is worth killing/dying for.

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Coat

Or are they just being kept busy?

Regarding Israel and the lack of attacks, I think you'll find the much more stringent security, the wall, and the in-fighting between the Palestinian groups are the main reasons. To pretend that there are not large numbers of Palestinians just itching to go postal in Isreali towns is to ignore the large numbers of attempts and the continued statements of the Palestinian groups (even Fatah's Al Asqua Matyrs still rant about killing Israeli civillians). But then admitting that Israeli security precautions and the wall save Israeli lives just isn't PC, is it?

The argument that we have had no repeats of 9/11 because AQ is short of willing kamikazes would ring a bit more true if you consider that is because the majority of candidates and their commanders have been caught or killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and even Chechnya. Indeed, 9/11 was a result of the Clinton administration "backing-off" from confronting Bin Laden and other extremists. When AQ has time and space (as it did in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan) it turns its resources to striking at the West. When it is constantly being fought, harried and attacked in their safe havens then it foucses on survival and pushing the agenda of local associates, with the occaissional half-planned effort for the propaganda purposes. Even our own half-baked, PC-bound efforts are still spotting the links between AQ and British Asians.

This is why AQ has been focusing with mixed success on finding suicide operatives that don't look Asian, such as Caucasian Chechnyans (culturally not keen on the whole matyrdom trip) and now sub-Saharan Africans muslims (who seem likley to fall for the old "kill the nasty infidels and get your seventy-two virgins" deal). So, if you accept that keeping AQ and associated groups busy, that means we also have to accept strong and continued intelligence involvement in not just Afghanistan but other potential muslim hotspts, such as Somalia, Kenya and Nigeria. And that means we need the minimum political fudging with the CIA, less of the political blame game, and more of politicians letting them get on with their job.

/mines the coat with the logo stating "Predator - keeping pantybombers from amusing us since October 2001".

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Flame

Peacenik

I think you'l find that after the USS Cole was attacked the Clinton administration had a pretty full-on bombing campaign against training camps in Afganistan. That was only brought to a close when that famous peacenik George Walker Bush took power in 2001. That's when Bin Lauden was given the space to dream up his jolly 9/11 japes!

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Unhappy

That had to be one

Matt,

congratulations for having the most thumbs down post here.

Your post can be summed up neatly: let's kill more dark skinned people and steal their land.

If they complain, we'll just blow them to pieces with a UAV missile strike operated by some jar-head in a control room in Qatar (or, perhaps Dallas).

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Silver badge

Keystone Cops Script

"Mr Mutallab should go down in history not as the underpants bomber, but simply as the completely pants bomber. ®

*Mutallab, quite apart from having a rubbish bomb which he should have known probably wouldn't work (he didn't study proper engineering as widely reported, but "Engineering with Business Finance") committed several other blunders. "

Lewis, you seem to have omitted to share that it was an "ATTEMPTED USE OF A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION attack ....... http://cryptome.org/abdulmutallab/007.pdf

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Troll

ElReg converts to the dark side

EPIC FAIL GUYS!!!

and the evil terrorists have been given enough information to probably take a plane down...

now all of us reading this are on a NSA/GCHQ watch/no-fly list....

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Anonymous Coward

Essential precaution...?

" NB: Any terrorists reading this should be aware that an essential precaution has been left out of all the bombing plans above, without which any attack is 90 per cent or more likely to fail due to a classified security tactic in use by the UK (and presumably the US). "

Sir! Sir! I know, sir!!!

"Don't look like a Brazilian electrician."

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Coffee/keyboard

Damn you AC

And I thought that reading El Reg with a coffee was safe now that the BOFH kinda retired. Damn you AC, damn you.

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Go

Great editorial

Well reasoned, informed and presented. Lewis you are a credit to El Reg and the cause of rational people everywhere -- I'm convinced that there are more of us than the mass media would have us believe -- and it profoundly saddens/annoys me that the "terrified" masses have so far to go to catch up. Keep fighting the good fight!

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tax free bombs

Bombs need a detonator and a propellant. For a detonator, your legal 100 mL is more than enough. As for propellant, they sell that stuff in the tax free shops by the gallon. Any chemist want to predict what is going to happen if a 100 mL glass bottle of dehydrated sulphuric acid gets smashed between two big bottles of vodka?

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yes

Yes... a puff of smoke. You'll be needing to confine that (for a short time) in order to get it to go super sonic...

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Thumb Up

Great Article

Nice to read a level-headed, sensible piece from someone who knows what he's talking about.

Keep 'em coming Lewis!

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security based on fear is worthless

whilst I do not doubt for a moment the terrorist threat exists and is real, a nice little article listing all of 2009 fatal air disasters, too many to count, but only a very small minority were intentinally caused (terrorist or otherwise).

http://www.airsafe.com/events/last_15.htm

The truth is, you've more likelihood of being injured or killed, queing up to get through airport security, than on an exploding aircraft, whether that's because of the enhanced security currently in operation is rather moot, given that the discussion is to make it practically impossible to travel by air anyway.

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Common Sense

Great article. Why is it that this obvious common sense is never applied by those in the airline security business?

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FAIL

There is a simple reason

The answer is simple - Its significantly more profitable to over react... All of these new fangdangled full body scanners cost a lot of money (no doubt with significant kickbacks to all of the appropriate officials/MPs) and so everyone gets a little bit richer (at the taxpayers expense), so everyone making the decisions is happy.

Its just simple economics...

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Fighter planes

You observe that "If all these fail, following the bloodbath at Ground Zero fighter pilots will not hesitate to shoot."

I would have thought that to be a great outcome from the terrorists' point of view. Having the plane shot down kills as many people as blowing it up and probably causes far more political (and diplomatic) rumpus.

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If the plane is the only target, yes.

But I think the idea is shooting down the plane before it can be crashed into a high-density of grounded population. I feel it likely the 4th 9/11 plane passengers had the same idea - they were dead anyway, but best not take anyone else with them.

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Yes, but

Less than flying it into a building, or indeed blowing it up over a populated area. Do keep up.

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Perspective

I agree that from the point of view of the defenders it makes sense to shoot the plane down, but I'm more interested in the point of view of the attackers.

Given a choice between trying to take over the plane and have it shot down or trying to blow it up, which is preferable? I'm pretty sure it's the former, which means that unless blowing the plane up appears easier than hijacking it the rational attack is the hijack. It's not clear that Lewis Page had considered that angle, which is why I wanted to point it out.

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Grenade

[Citation needed]

I am currently growing a Sagaretia theezans bonsai tree. According to Wikipedia, "when ground up and mixed with salt, it forms a minor explosive capable of shattering glass."

So there's another suggestion for would-be jihadis. Anyone want to be labelled the "bombsai bomber"?

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Thumb Up

Great read

Nothing to say, but well written article

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Gates Horns

Moral of the story is

Have some viagra before going to security checks. Have an erection and then they will feel embarrassed about checking that area.

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Gold badge
Welcome

You're mistaken..

You forgot they're the ones with the rubber gloves..

Doormat icon for comic effect..

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Coat

No thanks

With my luck I'd get the gay security guy...

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Or...

Possibly excited at the prospect.

If you were a TSA screener, would reluctance or eagerness be more likely to get you the groin groping job?

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Coat

Yes, but.

If you actually were a jihadi equipped with an explosive bottom, as there's another meaning to the term "arse bandit" that could be considered a result.....

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Alert

How about a full body scan protest contest?

The introduction of full-body scanners is just crying out for some form of protest, and if we can get hold of the scanner images we have the basis for a protest slogan competition.

You'll need some lettering made of a non-metallic dense material that will show up on the scanner but won't trigger a metal detector. A set of fridge magnet letters (sans magnets) should do.

All you have to do is come up with a suitable protest phrase, sew it on to your under garments, and get in line at the airport. Getting a copy of the scanner image to verify your competition entry could be tricky. Bonus points for getting arrested for the most trivial slogan.

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