Nearly all the terrorist attacks I can remember have been clumsy and hapless. It's important to take stock of that fact on days like today, with the news of this latest clumsy, hapless attack.
People only dimly remember Al-Qaeda's first attempted bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, which was amateurish and failed in its objective to topple the buildings. The shoe bomber plot was pure idiocy, as were several others around that time. On 9/11, the Pentagon segment was poorly targeted and ill-conceived, and United flight 93 never even reached the target.
Nearly every Al-Qaeda attack has been sloppy, ill-targeted, and poorly-disciplined, including today's (which I'm supposing was from those same slimeballs). If you set off three bombs in a humongous crowd and only two people die, that means you suck at terrorism. My heart goes out to the families of the victims, but this was really a pathetic bit of mass-murder.
The only time they ever really succeeded was the September 11 attack on the Trade Center. OBL claimed to have predicted the towers would implode from the heat, but I think that's bull. I think they mostly got lucky (though the planes-as-missles idea was creative). If the Towers didn't implode, everyone would have run down a few flights, and it would have been yet another angry gesture, rather than tragedy. So even that one could have gone either way.
I don't see a learning curve. I don't see these idiots growing smarter or better-disciplined. I see sloppy, childish lashing out by amateurs. I am not terrorized.
The Cold War produced way more fatalities on our end than this supposedly hot one. This isn't persecution, it's annoyance, in the larger picture - though, of course, complete tragedy for the victims' families. I don't underestimate that, having myself lost a friend in one of the feeble attacks I've mocked above.
TV is really good at making us feel as if we were really there (and the cameras have done a swell job of intruding on the full explicit horror, no? I'm rewarding them by getting all my news on this via radio alone). But you're not there. You, along with the other 313,914,039 Americans, are safe tonight (including you, Boston friends). So don't let our own media complete the job of terrorizing you!
You really should read this fascinating and stupendously thoughtful series on Slate examining why there's never been a 9/11 style follow-up (eight explanations are proposed, but my money's on the "The Terrorists-Are-Dumb" theory.
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