Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Unimaginable" terror attack foiled: denial

A planned terrorist attack to destroy airliners in flight through explosives hidden in carry-on luggage has been thwarted in Great Britain.

The police described the plot as involving "mass murder on an unimaginable scale." My reaction: unimaginable to whom? Folks, where've you been for the past five years?

Of course, you might say it shouldn't have been "unimaginable" even before 9/11. But for most of us, it was. At the time, it was easier to be in denial of the intent and the capability of the jihadis because they'd never managed to pull it off before.

But at this point, the use of the word "unimaginable" is either a case of rhetorical hyperbole, or the reflection of an attitude of unfortunate denial in the face of clear and uncontrovertible evidence and statements of intent. Nothing of this sort should be unimaginable these days, and one doesn't even need a very active imagination to envision it.

It's also true that some still find it almost impossible to do so. One of my first thoughts on hearing the news--after I'd heard some of the details of what, where, how, who (I didn't need the "why" since we're all-too-familiar with that)--was to wonder how long it would take for someone to imagine the whole thing a conspiracy by the authorities to scare the public.

Preliminary reports aren't saying all that much about the perpetrators, except that they are "home-grown" and part of the Pakistani community. This is the trend in terror attacks lately--not foreign nationals but locals, which is especially worrisome to authorities and, I would imagine, to the local communities as well, who could experience a backlash against them by the public at large. Not that the perpetrators care; it's not "unimaginable" to me that generating such a backlash might even be desirable to them. After all, if their own community feels more oppressed, it could gain them more dissatisfied and disgruntled potential jihadis to martyr themselves in the cause of blowing up innocents.

[ADDENDUM: Dean Bartlett wonders about that word "unimaginable" as well.

And Alexandra has a nice list of reactions from the Left that are about as predicted.]

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