Unlike all the little old ladies groped at airports worldwide, Merah fit a certain profile -- a profile so obvious that I shouldn't need to elaborate on the details. Not that all people of Merah's profile should be subject to undue harassment, but those who fit such a profile and make the same holiday-destination choices really ought to be. How about starting there? And if security services were blindingly dazzled and distracted by his winning personality, or by a slideshow of him making thumbs-up signs in front of various piles of sand, then we have a serious problem.
We're constantly told that everyone must be subjected to scrutiny because terrorism, in adapting to stay ahead of security measures, will evolve to be practiced by those who are a far cry from Merah's profile. Can we maybe focus first on nabbing the guys who fit the profile perfectly? Because evidently, they're still slipping through the cracks. Once that's perfected, then maybe it will be time to move on to protecting the public from scenarios representing an eventual danger in Fantasyland.
Merah had reportedly done jail time for robbery convictions, during which he may have become radicalized when he came into contact with Islamic fanatics. Again, does it really matter if he got his nutty ideas from prison, a comic book, or an imagined image that appeared to him on a slice of burned toast?
The average person with an adequately formed conscience can be bombarded with all sorts of loony ideas and respond with, "Wow, that's whack!" or "Shove it!" -- even people who spend time in jail surrounded by other crazies. I don't care how or where these lunatics end up getting their inspiration. I just expect that should they choose to express their inspiration on a canvas of violence, we can rely on the authorities to deploy their accrued wisdom to pre-empt any damage.
There are two things in Europe that could be seen at night from space until last week: Belgium, and Mohammed Merah's warning signs. We don't need more or bigger laws; we just need people doing their jobs with the ones that already exist.
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