Thursday, July 21, 2005

The fire this time

Details on today's attacks in London are still sketchy, but thankfully there appear to have been no deaths and only one, or at most a few, injuries involved.

Early take: Either this is a major embarrassment for al Qaeda, or it didn't involve al Qaeda at all. I suspect the latter.

Item: The Islamists don't screw around with low-casualty operations for the purpose of "sending a message." When they build a bomb and detonate that bomb, their intention is to create carnage and fill body bags.

Item: Even the most inept terror group, Islamist or otherwise, is likely to get at least one of four bombs, and one of four deliveries, right. If no fewer than four bombs were smuggled onto trains and buses at great risk to the smugglers, and if all four were detonated, the fact that the detonations were small was intentional.

Working hypothesis: Someone wanted to demonstrate that London's public transit infrastructure is still vulnerable to attack. Maybe they wanted to demonstrate it in order to prove that the UK's "enhanced" security measures haven't made traveling by bus or tube any safer -- either to encourage further "enhancements" or to encourage rolling back the existing ones. Maybe they wanted to convince Londoners to walk or ride bicycles. Or maybe they were just following through on a bet they made down at the pub the other night.

In 1981, a teenager leapt out of the crowd lining a parade route and unloaded a pistol at Queen Elizabeth II. He was firing blanks, and the Queen was unharmed. At trial, the prosecution held that he was conducting a "fantasy assassination" because he couldn't procure the tools for a real one. His defense was that he was simply out to show how poor the Queen's security was so that it would be improved. He spent five years in gaol (and the Queen went back to Buckingham Palace, where a year later she woke up to find an intruder at the foot of her bed, wanting to chat).

At first blush, I think we may be something similar here. Of course, I could be wrong.

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