Americans now know that one Islamic terrorist sitting at a strategic point in an airplane can use a PETN (Pentaerythritol) explosive to take down an airplane. Richard Reid’s failure in 2001 and Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s failure on Christmas Day does not minimize the threat. Detonating one small, hard-to-detect, latex-based container could kill hundreds and send our already struggling economy into a tailspin.
In both cases, we can be thankful for incompetent bombers, faulty explosives and the heroic action of the crew and passengers. But if the explosives had worked, those heroic actions would have come too late.
What is Homeland Security’s response? Are they calling for whole body scan imaging that may have found the explosives? Are they using aggressive profiling measures that have proved effective in Israel? Of course not! The privacy concerns of a few outweigh the safety such measures would provide.
Instead, they institute ridiculous measures that punish and inconvenience the innocent while doing little to deter or detect terrorists. Denying the use of laptops, going to the bathroom or covering oneself with a blanket in the last hour of flight is closer to torture than what they allow at Gitmo!
Citizens must do what politicians don’t have the courage or common sense to do. It’s time to profile and act.
Four years ago on a small regional flight, I noticed four Arab passengers sitting in different rows. One appeared to be reading a holy text, another an Arab newspaper, a third stared out the window. The final one closest to me was dressed in western clothes and seemed relaxed.
The rest in the plane were not relaxed. As an aging businessman, I scanned the plane for allies. Outside of the Arab passengers, I appeared to be the youngest passenger on board. I remembered seeing James Bond use a pen as a weapon to the throat, but I’m no James Bond.
On hold at the gate, a plan emerged: “If they are terrorists, wouldn’t you rather find out while on the ground?!” I leaned back to the more casually dressed man sitting near me, “Do you live here or in Chicago?” “Chicago,” he replied with a smile. “I coordinate corporate tours for visiting executives from the Middle East. We are returning from a tour of a plant in Indiana.”