July 08, 2005

The Plots That Get Thwarted

I've heard radically different estimates of how many terrorist plots get foiled every year. It's almost impossible to measure such a thing, and if you did you'd have trouble breaking it down by target country.

Lair has a problem with the "we are all Londoners" meme that so many of us indulged in yesterday (including me). After all, he points out, that means we in the West have to switch nationalities every time there's a successful attack. Sure, it's silly (though I'm sentimental that way).

What we all are, he asserts, is infidels. Correct. And "infidel," by the way, encompasses a lot of Muslims: at least two of the train stations selected were near neighborhoods inhabited predominantly by Muslims.

Measuring how many of these plots are thwarted gets snarled up if you try to figure out which "infidels" they are aimed at. After all, AQ and its allies are perfectly willing to substitute one Western target for another.

The point is, the cells are being rolled up continually, on every continent. California Mafia has an update on the cell in Lodi. It sounds like a joke, until you think of how close Lodi is to Sacramento, and how central it is to the U.S.'s most populated state. Shipping, agriculture, the state government: all were within reach.

Comparing the horror of London yesterday with what these motherfuckers "accomplished" in Madrid leaves one underwhelmed—and almost makes me understand those Brits in the pubs yesterday afternoon, yawning bravely and asking if that was all the terrorists had before ordering another warm beer.

It was a failure. The terrorists brought a knife to a gun fight. We know that their ability to pull these things off depends upon their resources: they will always go for the biggest target, the greatest symbolism, and the highest body count. It was a tiny bloodbath, not even in the same league with 3/11 in Madrid.

Even 9/11 was a failure, measured against its goals: AQ meant to bomb the Capitol building, but failed. Its supposedly brilliant planners hoped that the WTC towers would fall over, and on top of other buildings in the financial district. Most analysts agree that the White House was the initial target of the plane that hit the Pentagon: the hijackers hadn't realized how hard it is to see the White House from the air.

The 9/11 attack was supposed to kill tens or hundreds of thousands, not several thousand. And the U.S. government was supposed to be decapitated, with both the Capitol building and the White House in ruins.

These guys are far from defeated, but they grow weaker every year. It will take many more years, but we are winning.

We are.

Posted by Attila at July 8, 2005 12:50 PM | TrackBack

Spot on! 9/11 was 3000-some. 3/11 was 300-some. And now it looks like 7/7 might be 30-some (though I have seen 52).

That looks like a logarithmic decay curve to me.



I didn't even know that was an LMA word...(big grin)

Posted by: Desert Cat at July 8, 2005 03:19 PM

We have to remember that these guys don't hold back. Each year, they hit us with everything they have, when the plan isn't spoiled by various intel/law enforcement agencies.

That's the silver lining.

Posted by: Attila Girl at July 8, 2005 03:24 PM

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