Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two Questions About Airplane "Groin Bomber"

By now you've probably heard the news that a Nigerian national named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested yesterday when he attempted to ignite an explosive device as his international flight from Amsterdam was on final approach to Detroit. His explosives failed to fully ignite, however, and he was subdued, badly burned, by passengers and crew.

But had you also heard that he was apparently flying with no checked baggage at all (only carry-ons) and he only had a one-way ticket? Several news articles about this incident suggest that it will raise concerns about the effectiveness of our "no fly" lists, since this 23 year old man was apparently already on some terrorist watch lists. But putting that to one side, is it ever in our national interest to allow Nigerian nationals to fly to the United States on one way tickets with no checked baggage? What possible short or long term good can come from that? Is there no data collection mechanism in place to detect circumstances like that in advance?
And had you also heard that he apparently used a syringe to inject a liquid chemical into some explosive powder taped near his groin, an act he attempted to hide from fellow passengers by keeping a blanket on his lap? What terrorist 'mastermind' conceived that methodology? ("Ok, all you need to do is put a blanket over your lap. That way, no one will notice when you 'innocently' begin to fiddle with a syringe near your groin. Oh, and be sure to do this during landing. No infidel will expect you to do this when everyone is seated upright again, the cabin lights are back on, and the in-flight entertainment system has been turned off. Only then should you thrust this Syringe of Justice down into your Groin of Doom under cover of their flimsy in-flight Blanket of Ignorance.")

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