Get smarter on terror: Detroit near-miss exposes big holes in security shieldEditorial
December 27, 2009
Sooner or later, if the civilized world does not get its act together, these demented fanatics will again produce mass destruction. They keep trying, and you can be sure that they are today sharing lessons- learned intelligence about the plot to bring down Northwest Flight 253.
You can also be certain that, whether he acted alone or in concert with Al Qaeda, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab is a hero in the fevered precincts of radical Islamist jihad. For he showed that it can be done - that it is possible to defeat the security measures upon which millions of air travelers depend every day.
This 23-year-old succeeded in doing what those same millions had been assured was impossible: He managed to smuggle onto an airline a combination of chemicals that was, at least, combustible and, at worst, explosive.
While everyone else was leaving behind hair gels and contact lens solutions except in tiny quantities, Mutallab was strapped with the recipe ingredients for, at least, igniting a fire in an Airbus A330 and, at worst, blowing 278 passengers out of the sky.
Including, of course, himself. Oh, happy martyr.
Mutallab's claim to be an Al Qaeda foot soldier draws natural attention, but perhaps still more frightening is the prospect that he is merely inspired to slaughter by the group's perversion of Islam. If so, he is the perfect representation of the increasingly atomized nature of terror - a scourge that now is often planned by individuals who have become woven into the fabric of Western societies.
With the exception of the Fort Hood killer, they have not inflicted casualties - yet. Their failures have contributed to a dismissive complacency that has been both astonishing and appalling. Here, though, the globe is witness to the closest of calls.
We are left to thank God, hail the passengers who subdued Mutallab and conduct our own after-action inquiries. Such as: How the hell did he get on board with whatever the hell be brought on board?
Incredibly, Mutallab appears to have been something of a known quantity among intelligence services. It is reported that his name was in a U.S. database of suspected terrorists but was not included on the terrorist no-fly list. This would seem dangerous idiocy of the highest order.
As Long Island Rep. Pete King, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said of Mutallab: "His terrorist connections did not lend themselves to aviation threats, that's why he was not on a no-fly list, which to me does not really make sense; if you're a terrorist you're a terrorist."
There must be a full accounting.