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Christmas Terror, Seasonal Error

December 30, 2009

One person can make a difference in this world.

How often have you been told this, have heard versions of it, or have read it in inspirational books or magazines? Oprah and others like her have made their fortunes on it. Most of us try and tell ourselves we can make a difference on days when the world conspires to prove us otherwise. Well someone did make a difference to the world. His name is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, he comes from Nigeria and he tried to blow up a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas day with explosives lined underpants, accompanied by a liquid detonator in a syringe. You’d have laughed at the silliness of it all if it wasn’t so serious. He follows a long line of people who through their actions have made a difference to how we view each other, how we live in our ‘free’ countries and how we travel by plane – to America in particular.

The inventiveness of terrorists ensures the travel experience becomes more restricted and cumbersome, to the point that for some of us, it’d be better to stay at home. Before Abdulmutallab, whose action is speeding up the introduction of a new scanner that apparently sees through your clothes, along with instructions to not go to the toilet one hour before the plane lands, we had the men who attempted to bring liquid explosives on a plane in a baby bottle, thereby introducing restrictions on bringing water and other liquid based goods on a plane. Before that there was Richard Reid, the famous shoe bomber whose actions make us now have to take off our shoes before we go through security, an act you previously wouldn’t have expected to do unless you were at home or in a temple. Then of course there was the mother of all terror actions – the flying of planes into the twin towers of The World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001 which kicked off the cat and mouse games played between security forces and terrorists ever since, bringing us to the 21st Century travelling we enjoy today. President Obama has recently spoken about the mistakes made by the Homeland Security. Silly little things like not taking action on the warnings by Abdulmutallab’s own father and the usual failings made by agencies not speaking to each other. The end result is this: the world panics, we have more of our rights and freedoms curtailed in the name of security and although we know in our hearts it’s wrong, we settle down, get used to it, then it’s business as usual. So much for our politician’s declarations that terrorists won’t alter our way of life. Our way of life has been altered since 9/11 and not for the better, so don’t try and tell us anything different.

I think it was the IRA that once said the Police and security forces have to be lucky every time (they manage to foil a bomb plot), but they only have to be lucky once. I think it was the passengers of flight 253 who got lucky this Christmas.

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