Saturday, July 09, 2005

Questions about 7/7

There are some aspects of this week's terror attack in London that point to Islamic perpetrators, but there are several others that I can't quite figure out.

First, the similarities. Well, for one, for the last thirty years, pretty much every time there's been a terrorist attack, suspicion has fallen on Muslims because for, oh, about the last thirty years Arab Muslims have been responsible for a lot of terrorist attacks. Second, there are the statements by an obscure Arab group, boasting of links to al-Qaeda, claiming responsibility for the attacks. Now, CNN just had a story on the bombings and they claimed that the high level of casualties was another similarity. This got me thinking about the attacks in general, and that got me here blogging.

Anyway, I don't agree with the high casualty argument. 50 people, with all due respect to the dead in London, just isn't that many victims. 9/11 numbered near 3,000 dead. Madrid, 192. Bali, some 200 dead. 50 is mild by comparison. This got me thinking about another dissimilarity between this attack and other 9/11 attacks. Yes, there is the simultaneity of the attacks (another similarity), but using electronic timers, not human detonators. Of course, I am sure the terrorists would have wished for more casualties, but the fact that they used timers and not people increased the odds of decreasing the lethality of their strike.

The other big problem I have with this (well, that and the fact that the guys who are getting paid to investigate this attack haven't yet confirmed that this was al-Qaeda) is the timing. The timing seems just awful to me, especially for a group that, let's give it to 'em, has had pretty good timing. They struck on 9/11 at a time when they knew air security has dangerous cracks that could be exploited. If I'm not mistaken, Bali coincided with an election in Australia (October 2002). And then the expertly timed Madrid attack, which has, so far, yielded the greatest effect, cowing the Spanish out of Iraq.

So, I can't quite figure out the timing of this attack. Or, the location. Why London? You would think they would want to target Scotland. I mean, if the catalyzing event is Gleneagles, why attack London so far away? Was the security too tight at Gleneagles? Perhaps leaving London vulnerable? But, then, why disrupt Gleneagles? The G-8 meeting was going to accomplish nothing while talking mainly about Africa and climate change. Big deal. Who cares if you disrupt that yawn-fest?

I mean, you would think a terrorist would want to keep a low profile until the opportunity for a decisive strike arose. Don't draw attention to yourself until you're ready to really do some damage. Well, nobody ever said terrorist were smart. Perhaps, these aren't. I hate to sound like I am making light because I am serious when I say this: this has the feel of a terrorist attack by a really smart, disgruntled teen, rather than Islamic terrorists. Some aspects of it just seem unpracticed, almost amateurish, with flashes of technical competence.

What's the symbolism here? I'm missing it. Because if the idea is to send a message to America's staunch ally in the Global War on Terror, then why attack now? The British just had elections in May. That would have been the time to strike, especially with one of candidate Blair's big weaknesses being Iraq. A terror event in London, during the campaign, and we could have a different resident at Number 10 Downing Street.

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