Monday, April 15, 2013

The Terrorists Suck at Terrorism

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.


twoticketstoparadise said...

Wow, among the dumber things I have ever read.
The attack on 9/11 was the most brilliant military attack ever executed. There is nothing even close.

Yesterday's attack was a complete success. Sure, more of the bombs could have gone off, and their could have been more damage, but that is not the point. They are trying to destroy an illusion, and he/she/they succeeded.

Obviously, it did not work on you. That is one of the flaws in their strategy. Attacks can actually increase the strength of a delusion, because fear ends rational thinking.

Our violence reinforces their delusions; their violence reinforces our delusions. Delusions win.

Jim Leff said...

Yes, terrorist acts can be sloppy and ineffectual while still terrifying the bejesus out of people.....if we fall for it, yielding to the mob freak-out and spurred by the horrendously explicit injury imagery playing 24/7 on TV.

You seem to have reached the conclusion that I'm functioning here as a "Terrorism Critic", and have given a sober thumbs down to yesterday's performance. You've missed the point.

If people shake off that groupthink and don't allow the sensationalist media to rile them into a froth, the truth will be apparent: these are not evil criminal masterminds who are, like, "winning", and actually threatening the population at large. They're incompetent angry kids lashing out, and they're not getting any better/smarter. And insofar as we can remain clear on that, their strategy WON'T work. And we'll all feel better.

I dont' see a lot of people pointing that out. And one of the aims of this Slog is to point out things that others aren't pointing out, particularly when it makes people feel better.

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