Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The good news and the bad news about the Zazi arrest

Note: This is my weekend op-ed for the newspaper.

There's some good news and some bad news about the arrest of Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi last week for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks on New York public transportation.

The good news is, the FBI and local police really seem to be on top of things. They've evidently had red flags up on this guy for some time now, and know something about accomplices in Al-Qaeda cells operating in America. And it's a safe bet they know more than they're telling the press, which I find professionally frustrating but personally reassuring.

The bad news is, Zazi was evidently arrested because law enforcement believed he'd started making a powerful explosive by a process so simple, using chemicals so easily available that I'm not going to give it's formal name. I'll just refer to it by its nickname among Islamic terrorists, “Mother of Satan.”

Its chemical name alone gives half the formula for making the stuff. It took me five seconds to find a video detailing the process on the Internet. But I'm going to be responsible and not tell you how to find it. That'll keep you busy for... easily five minutes.

As an aside, a few years back when we were living on the Oklahoma University campus, a student blew himself up near the football stadium on game day with Mother of Satan. There's no evidence he was a terrorist. He was evidently just fooling with the devilish stuff, which explodes at a harsh look.

That's the terrifying thing about terrorism these days. A modern industrial society puts the means of making powerful weapons into everyone's hands. And technology is only going to make it worse as time goes on.

Timothy McVeigh made the Oklahoma City bomb out of fertilizer and diesel oil. The good news is, if you try to buy a whole bunch of fertilizer these days and you're not a farmer, some folks are going to have some searching questions for you.

Not too long ago I'd have considered that a dangerous expansion of government powers of surveillance. Now I'm just fine with it.

But then there's good news, of a sort. Islamic jihadists seem fixated on suicide missions to the point they don't even consider long-term campaigns of widespread destruction in our country through missions which allow for the survival and escape of the jihadists.

The bad news is, I took some time off to think about it and came up with a comprehensive, detailed plan which terrified me.*

But there's some other good news.

What they are doing is not exactly war, in the sense we understand it. Islamic jihadists trumpet their desire to first drive the “crusaders” out of the Lands of Islam (dar Al-Islam) and re-establish the ancient Caliphate under Sharia law; then to conquer the Lands of War (dar Al-harb, i.e. all countries that aren't Islamic.)
This is of course a fantasy, albeit a dangerous one. Both for them and us.

What they appear to be doing with terrorist actions is something like the plains Indian custom of counting coup. Among the horse-riding plains tribes, the highest honor a warrior could win was to do something daring against an enemy, such as riding up to one and striking him with a coup stick in battle, or sneaking into their camp and stealing his horses.

Likewise, a jihadist terrorist is going “nya-nya” to the richer, more powerful Great Satan with terrorist acts that serve no real military purpose. Their purpose is exactly what the name implies, to terrorize. They prove to themselves they are our superiors by making us afraid.

The good news is, to get greater glory jihadists have to top the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. And that's really hard to top because for one, we're warned and ready now. And second, actions the size of Sept. 11 requires a large group. Larger conspiracies are easier to catch. Especially when maybe not everyone in the group is equally enthusiastic about martyrdom. (There is some evidence that not all the 19 hijackers on 9/11 realized it was a one-way trip until they were in the air.)

The bad news is, after 9/11 the ultimate coup is a terrorist strike using no-name nukes.

*See, 'If I were a terrorist, part 2' http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2007/01/if-i-were-terrorist-part-2.html


  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Ted Amadeus said…

    Thinking along the lines of 11 SEP 01, how do you smuggle a dozen terrorists into a large country with a completely different culture who can't speak English, have them training there for a year and a half, paying for everything with cash, and nobody notices anything?
    A hell of a lot of people in authority have to be - bare minimum - "looking the other way".
    of course, the standard ass-covering for bureaucrats is "they didn't know anything about it" or "don't remember" what they did...
    Just gives you a warm fuzzy when thinking about SocMed, doesn't it?

  • At 4:51 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    I'm going to have to get around to reviewing Steve Usdin's 'Engineering Communism.'

    Though I think you can get the gist of it in the Wikipedia article.

    Usdin reveals that not only were the Rosenberg's guilty - they were so blatantly guilty it's difficult to imagine what the FBI was doing all that time.

    (For example, the KGB resident sent over to manage their spy ring found to his horror that Julius Rosenberg's self-chosen code name, was 'Julius.')

    But in their defense he points out that the CPUSA had more active members than the FBI had field agents by a long shot.


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