Boston Globe Editorial - Lessons on terrorism
Copyright by The Boston Globe
Published: August 25, 2006
Eleven suspects were brought to court in London this week, charged with involvement in the plot to blow up several airliners over the Atlantic. The foiling of their alleged conspiracy will inevitably be scrutinized for what it reveals about the terrorist threat five years after Sept. 11.
It should be reassuring that the plotters were not as well organized or as successful at keeping their plans secret as the Sept. 11 masterminds and the terrorists who did their bidding. If British and Pakistani officials are correct, knowledge of the airline plot was disseminated among scores of people. The conspirators failed to prevent a mole from infiltrating their network. And they were careless enough to permit U.S. agencies to intercept their communications.
If the scheme to use liquid explosives to blow up the airliners was conceived or directed by top Qaeda figures, as Pakistani intelligence has claimed, then it seems obvious that Osama bin Laden's lieutenants are less capable of carrying out a complex terrorist spectacular than they were before they lost their sanctuary and training camps in Afghanistan.
If Al Qaeda was not orchestrating the airline scheme, or if Qaeda figures were involved only tangentially, the thwarting of the plot suggests that local terrorists and jihadists are best fought with sound intelligence and old-fashioned police work. They may be capable of mass killing, as the London train bombings last summer showed, but the threat they represent is very different from that of Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany.
Inflating the danger from jihadi terrorists into an existential threat and invoking a grandiose third world war, as President George W. Bush and his advisers have been doing, only plays into the hands of bin Laden and the other deluded megalomaniacs hiding out with him in the mountains of South Waziristan.
- The Boston Globe