The Foiled Faux Underwear Bomber: An Ongoing Series

Expect the neocon-national-security-hawk-complex to start raising the hysteria level to purple following the foiling of the latest-and-greatest underwear-bomber attack. The plot, they’ll say, is a chilling reminder of the grave threat that the Islamist enemy still poses to the U.S. of A.

But if this episode proves anything, it is just how overblown this threat is. The best person that al Qaeda could find for the job wasn’t an authentic recruit but a  double agent masquerading as a jihadist.

That al Qaeda and its affiliates wish to hurt America was never in doubt. However, intentions don’t alone deliver results. Successful transnational terrorist attacks need quality individuals who, as I wrote last year, would have to be:

radicalized enough to die for their cause; Westernized enough to move around without raising red flags; ingenious enough to exploit loopholes in the security apparatus; meticulous enough to attend to the myriad logistical details that could torpedo the operation; self-sufficient enough to make all the preparations without enlisting outsiders who might give them away; disciplined enough to maintain complete secrecy, and—above all—psychologically tough enough to keep functioning at a high level without cracking in the face of their own impending death.

Al Qaeda might be able to put together a team of heavy weights once in a blue moon, as it did with the 9/11 attacks. But it is not something it can pull off on a regular basis. Indeed, the average al Qaeda foot solider is a peasant who knows little of life outside his province. According to Glenn Carle, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats on the National Intelligence Council, at its height al Qaeda had just about 20 members who could be regarded as officer grade.

Indeed, if the latest underwear bomber is the best that al Qaeda can do, then Americans have more to fear from their TSA agents than from whatever latest boogeyman their country’s venerable leaders are cooking up.

Incidentally, the documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound corroborate that a big obstacle to his goals was the lack of talent. Like the CEO of a company, he was constantly looking for skilled individuals, carefully screening resumes before hiring. He fretted about the “incompetence” of his recruits, even, notes The New York Times, “looking askance at Faisal Shahzad, who tried unsuccessfully to set off a car bomb in Times Square, and Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born propagandist who was killed by an American drone strike.” He also distrusted fellow leaders, all of which made for internecine battles royale. Yet these are the people we are supposed to spend $2 trillion --and counting -- to protect ourselves from.

Might have made for a good laugh if we were not actually footing the bill.

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  • CockGobbla||

    My potty-training put a stop to my underwear bombing, thankfully.

  • BMFPitt||

    ingenious enough to exploit loopholes in the security apparatus

    That was good for a laugh.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Incidentally, the documents seized from Osama bin Laden's compound corroborate that a big obstacle to his goals was the lack of talent. Like the CEO of a company, he was constantly looking for skilled individuals, carefully screening resumes before hiring.

    Questions Osama bin Laden might ask in an interview (applicant answers are optional). Go!

  • Hugh Akston||

    OBL: Where do you see yourself in five years?

    A: I want to be the number 2 man in Al Qaeda.

    OBL: Good! We always seem to have openings in that position.

  • ThemAPPLEs||

    Or -
    OBL: Where do you see yourself in five years?

    A:Dead....for about four and a half years.

    A: Now... about those virgins....

  • Rich||

    OBL: In order to defeat the Great Satan, would you blaspheme the Prophet? Answer wisely.

  • Jerryskids||

    Boxers or briefs?

  • Old Mexican||

    OBL: Would you consider yourself as someone with people's skills?

  • Old Mexican||

    OBL: Have you had any previous experience blowing yourself up?

  • ||

    OBL: Why are manhole covers round?

    A: As the lowest stress flat shape, a circle is less likely to tear into shrapnel when a bomb blows up beneath it.

  • Paul.||

    Obl: describe a conflict you had with a boss or coworker in a previous job, and how you resolved it.

  • Copernicus||

    OBL: What would you say is your biggest weakness?

    A: Sometimes I care too much.

  • Copernicus||

    OBL: If we need to make cutbacks, would 27 virgins be enough?

  • Sevo||

    "Incidentally, the documents seized from Osama bin Laden's compound corroborate that a big obstacle to his goals was the lack of talent. Like the CEO of a company, he was constantly looking for skilled individuals, carefully screening resumes before hiring."

    OBL had a real problem here. It's not like he was looking for the particular (and rare) set of skills for future promotion.
    Hey, if each of your most promising candidates has to kill themselves, you're looking at a shrinking pool of talent.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Sevo,

    Hey, if each of your most promising candidates has to kill themselves, you're looking at a shrinking pool of talent.


    The set of skills he was looking for - smart and suicidal - do not happen together in nature that easily.

  • Sevo||

    Any careful reading of the WWII Kamikaze weapons makes certain facts clear:
    1) Japan had a lot of them.
    2) It took nearly no skill to become one.
    Number one was the result of number two.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I know that you're being humorous, but...

    That is a real, and ultimately self defeating, problem for any organization that relies on suicide attacks. See also the Kamikaze in WWII and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka's civil war in the 80s-00s.

  • Sevo||

    VG Z?
    Looks like were on the same page.

  • jasno||

    "radicalized enough to die for their cause..."

    ...and willing to shove something up their ass, since the TSA can't detect butt-bombs even though the technique was used in 2009 in Saudi Arabia. This, to me, invalidates the entire security apparatus. If you can't stop someone from bringing explosives onto airplanes, then your security is effectively theater. Time to wrap it up and go back to metal detectors.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and OT:
    No article or post that Obama has finally decided it's OK for gays to marry?
    I mean, did he have some sort of revelation? Or is this just one more lie?

  • Rich||

    If one admits one's views are "evolving", how can one lie?

  • Sevo||

    Pretty sure his views had 'evolved' to this point in time for the last election.

  • ||

    2:57 EDT

    Oh, and to answer your question, it's a political calculation. As such, it pretty much indicates that he's given up the Reagan democrats and is trying to increase the enthusiasm and turnout of his core.

  • Sevo||

    "...is trying to increase the enthusiasm and turnout of his core."

    Not sure about this. Most gays of my acquaintance wouldn't vote R unless a D swore to, well, what?
    Pretty solid base already.

  • ||

    It's not LGBT he needs to get enthused. It's the F in FLGBT he needs to get enthused. Or, rather, the PWWBFITKA, because they're so thoughtfully liberal and now Obama is giving them something new and exciting to get newly excited about.

  • ||

    He's just trying keep the discussion away from the economy.

    Romney seem to be falling for it.

  • ||

    I don't know. It might even be worse than that. When was the last time you heard of a plot get broken up that didn't involve the a Federal agency stirring the pot in the first place?

  • sarcasmic||

    I can't think of one that didn't involve a federal agent providing all of the supplies, logistics and training.

  • ||

    Wow. So the FBI and the Fed are basically acting like keystone cops. We and the constitution get to pay the bill.

  • ||

    ... and the CIA....

  • Old Mexican||

    [...] the documents seized from Osama bin Laden's compound corroborate that a big obstacle to his goals was the lack of talent[...] Yet these are the people we are supposed to spend $2 trillion - and counting - to protect ourselves from.


    There's no price for security!

  • Russell||

    Too bad it took the NIO eight years to realize this Boxer rebellion is a dud.

    Al Qaeda's bluff was called in The American Conservative in 2004

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    I seem to recall a theory that not all of the 9/11 hijackers were aware that they were on a suicide mission. Last minute cold feet would be one less variable to worry about.

    ... Hobbit

  • Sevo||

    The Bearded Hobbit|5.9.12 @ 11:15PM|#
    "I seem to recall a theory that not all of the 9/11 hijackers were aware that they were on a suicide mission."

    Gotta ask if you have any source.
    Not beating on you, just asking because if it is true, the 'job description' was obviously fraudulent, and someone could bring action.
    I'd *love* it! 'Hey, OBL promised a high-paying job for my dimwit son!'

  • Paul.||

    I hate to say it, but it's only a matter of time before a qaeda or whatever organization springs from its ashes figures out that they can totally fuck our collective shit up without executing precision timed attacks on airline transportation systems.

    When that happens, you're going to have tsa-style screening every time you go to safeway, and we'll collapse as a functioning economy.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I think you're forgetting about the army of ultracompetent intelligence and security experts working under the Department of Homeland Security. With their finely-honed eyes and ears ever alert to dangers both foreign and domestic, what terrorist could ever hope to pierce the web of safety they have woven over this great nation?

  • Copernicus||

    Paul,
    I hate to say it but you're wrong.

    At that time, Americans will once again embrace the idea being well-armed.

    There might be a few bloodbaths at Safeway but AQ will be the ultimate loser. In much the same way no planes are going to crash into any buildings again (in America). Not because of any state security but rather because no shithead has a chance of making it down the aisle and into the cockpit.

    Ultimately, the primary burden of security will return to where it rightfully belongs, with each of us.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    Well, I've read enough to know that that is the plan. No al Qeada - another false flag. Then, the fascists crank-up the martial-law that we've been under since 9-11

  • BOBSAYSO||

    Rand Paul introduced a bill to abolish the TSA. That's why the boogeyman showed-up with a bomb in his drawers.

  • IceTrey||

    I think the double agent was an actual Al Qiada recruit who got caught and agreed to help the cops for leniency. Which in Saudi Arabia means you get to keep your head.

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