Thwarting Terrorism the English way–Proactive vs. Reactive pt. 3

In the UK twelve people from different ethnic backgrounds were arrested on the grounds that they were planning a terrorist strike. You can read about the story here. The potential targets included:

  • the American Embassy;
  • Big Ben;
  • Westminster Abbey;
  • the London Eye;
  • the Church of Scientology;
  • Boris Johnson’s London Mayoral Office;
  • the British Stock Exchange;
  • the house of the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral;
  • two synagogues

It looks like the group were planning something on the scale of the Mumbai massacre, targeting well-known sites and slipping in their possible real targets – the synagogues. Their intention was obviously to cause mayhem and to kill as many people as possible.

The special terrorism unit had uncovered written evidence of possible sites, as well as observing the group on their reconnaissance missions around London.

The 9 defendants, of Bangladeshi origin have been charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Police involved in rounding up the group uncovered copies of the extremist Al Qaeda magazine “Inspire” which included instructions on how to make a pipe bomb and what to expect in Jihad.

It is said that the extremist American-Yemeni Anwar Al-Awlaki was the inspiration for the plot. The men were said to have downloaded information from the Internet, discussed acts of terrorism and tested explosives while “unlawfully and maliciously conspiring to endanger life or cause serious injury with one or more explosions”.

A few months ago I remember hearing of the warning that someone was plotting a major terrorism act. Amongst the listed targets was the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace, and I believe from memory that either Prince William or Prince Harry were listed as possible targets at that time. I am assuming that those warnings are related to the arrests and arraignment of the 9 suspects that has now taken place.

What we see here is the results of a proactive terrorism squad. The squad does its work through surveillance. Once the plotters are identified they are watched and observed as they plan their attacks. In this case the surveillance included following the “target” suspects as the suspects were seen observing various locations for their plot.

The reactive responses to previous terror attempts do not work. There is no point to many of the measures that have been implemented when it comes to travel. If the plot has been thwarted there is no point in banning liquids being taken on board, and there is no point to banning such articles as: embroidery scissors, blunt ended wool needles, knitting needles, or even nail clippers, let alone umbrellas. Ordinary travellers are not going to use any of these items as an offensive weapon. The response to the use of the box-cutters by the 9/11 hijackers and jihadists is irrational. It is the same with the irrational requirement that passengers travelling inside of the USA must remove their shoes to go through the metal detector.

The worst of the reactive responses is the latest assault on the American travelling public namely the full TSA grope. It is not necessary to pat down those passengers. Little old men and women are not carrying bombs. Women who have had a breast removed are not going to be wearing a breast implant with a bomb inside. Neither are those men and women who have had colostomies and other similar operations. There is no need to pat down people with knee and hip replacements. If they have a letter proving that they have had these operations then they should not be molested by the TSA.

If the USA is serious about countering terrorists then they need to change their tactics and they need to stick with counter-terrorist surveillance. More terrorists have been caught via the counter-terrorist surveillance than all of the stupid restrictions at airports. Several groups of would be terrorists have been caught because of their purchase of “parts” from the ACME explosives company. The last group to have been caught purchasing ACME equipment came from Maryland. 

The increased surveillance should include security cameras in vulnerable areas such as the railway stations, but it should not include the stupid bag and body searches that are now the in thing at the airports. 


About Aussie

Married with children. Bachelor of Economics and Commerce, Melb 1975
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