Monday, September 7, 2009

British Terrorists Convicted of 2006 Plot

Remember the scare a few years ago when a they arrested some British guys who they said were going to try to blow up airplanes with liquid explosives? If you don't then let's just say that you have them to thank for getting all but the smallest amount of liquids banned from flights. It's why you have to be sure not to take your brand new $75 bottle of Gucci cologne through airport security lest it end up in the massive collection of various items that TSA employees are undoubtedly amassing. Anyways, the point is that three of the plotters were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder today in British court.

This story got me thinking about how we've gotten away from thinking about terrorist attacks against America. No doubt life has changed since September 11th with massive reorganization of government, tighter security at airports, arenas, etc., and a general sense that terrorism can be a real threat to this country. While all that has happened I feel like the potential for another massive attack is not something people think about anymore. If the liquid explosive plot would have succeeded completely it would have resulted in the destruction of multiple commercial airlines in mid-air over the Atlantic and left 1500 innocent people dead. That kind of attack would have created panic on an absolutely massive scale, and dealt a struggling airline industry a blow that it might not have recovered from. It's unsettling to think that such a small group can inflict so much damage. Luckily cooperation between U.S. and British intelligence resulted in the discovery of the plot, but it is a reminder of how vulnerable we are. It's easy to get distracted by the wars in Iraq and Aghanistan, and more recently the economic downturn, but that doesn't mean that terrorist groups don 't still mean the U.S. harm. There are still a good number of targets that terrorists can strike with relative ease that they haven't yet. Examples of such targets that come to my mind are so called "soft targets" such as arenas, malls, and various forms of public transportation. These attacks would probably be less dramatic than September 11th, but could be carried out with more frequency. They would also create a different kind of fear than September 11th because they would be aimed more at the basis of people's everyday lives.

I'm not trying to be the voice of doom here because I do think that we are safer now than we were on September 11th. I also think that it is a good thing that we don't live our daily lives in fear of another attack. This story just made me think about how we can lose focus on a real threat in the absence of a recent attack.

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