Sunday, December 27, 2009

Elevated Threats

My brother and my oldest son share an absurd and ridiculous similarity with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian who most recently tried to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. All three are on a list called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment. So are another 550,000 people worldwide. It can make travel a hassle. I suspect that my brother Kevin and my son Sean are on the list because someone in Belfast, or some other part of Northern Ireland, with the last name of Kelly, might have once purchased a scone or some soda bread at an IRA bake sale. Being included on the list doesn't prevent one from flying but it does require some additional explanation at the airport.

Had authorities included the information provided to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos by the suspects father, that his son Umar had developed terrorist tendencies, the young man would have been put on the Terrorist Screening Database and barred from boarding an airplane. It most certainly would have prevented him from being issued a "multi entry visa" from our State Department. Another classic example of the authorities not connecting the dots. For two years, security personnel have known about Abdulmutallab. Thankfully, the "sophisticated explosive device" he had strapped to his leg proved more sophisticated than he himself could manage, and the whole thing went up in smoke. Next time we might not be so lucky.

For years we've been told that these suicide bombers are the product of bad neighborhoods, with little to look forward to in life. So to substantiate their miserable lives, they seek to destroy the lives of others in the name of Islam. Turns out this latest spawn of Mohammed comes from an affluent and influential family. So did Osama bin Laden by the way. In Super Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, a study that the book sites, claims that "terrorists tend to be drawn from well-educated, middle-class or high-income families." My guess is that killing westerners is a pastime enjoyed by all socioeconomic strata of jihadist.

New restrictions on the flying public will no doubt bubble up from the cauldrons of politically correct bureaucrats. Already international passengers are being told they cannot leave their seats, or touch their carry-on luggage, if they are within an hour from landing at their American destination. For now, U.S. officials are blaming lax security measures at oversees airports. Abdulmutallab boarded the original leg of Flight 253 in Lagos, Nigeria. From an account I read on the internet, "American authorities are still confident they can prevent an active bomber from boarding a plane at a domestic airport." I suspect these are the same American authorities who couldn't, didn't or wouldn't, connect the dots that led to Nidal Malik Hasan killing twelve, and wounding 42, fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas.

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