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I hate to say I was proved right here but I was.

Lets us for a moment assume that screening for those boarding aircraft is 100% perfect and that no bomb ever gets on a plane. Well

It also occurs to me that security opera is bad for safety. Let’s assume that these vicious measures prevent bombs on planes (which they won’t). They will only do so by making areas around departure gates epically crowded and utterly chaotic. You say “Allahu Akbar!” and set-off your rucksack nail bomb at the checkpoint you will kill plenty.

So the Domodedovo bomb wasn’t at a departure gate but in arrivals but the same principle applies. You don’t need to get on the plane to cause carnage. Essentially the sort of screening we have now is the equivalent to fitting your front door with a tedious collection of bolts and deadlocks whilst leaving the back door wide open. It is that simple and obviously the terrorists have clocked that fact. It was only a matter of time.

Medvedev has of course made all the usual noises about “improved” airport security which I guess means a few more blokes wandering land-side of airports with AK-47s. I say “usual” because if this had happened at Gatwick or Frankfurt then Cameron or Merkel would say and do exactly the same – only this time the blokes would have Heckler & Kochs. I doubt this would act as more than a mild deterrent to “rational” terrorists and would be none whatsoever to suicide ones.

The question has to be asked as to where security resources are allocated. I would be happier if they let us fly in peace rather than go through the unpleasantness of the security opera and instead re-allocated resources to intelligence led operations to disrupt and catch terrorists. From a strategic point of view this is a widening of the defensive perimeter. It will never be a perfect perimeter – no perimeter ever can be – but I suspect it would be at least as effective without putting the rest of us through hell.

Psychologically this would have two linked effects. The first is that surely the only people who enjoy watching the security opera are the Jihadi overlords*? It must warm the cockles of their cold dark hearts to see what their actions have “forced” us to inflict upon ourselves. The measure of the success of a terrorist campaign is by definition not in terms of body bags but in terms of fear. Secondly it is an offensive, proactive move and not a defensive, reactive one and that should make the terrorists afraid. Not least because whilst there might be a certain deranged glory in being thwarted at the target there is no glory in being yanked out of bed at 4am by the rozzers in you underpants. That certainly makes Ahmed look more a pussy cat of Jihad than a lion does it not? Because then it’s not so much a glorious failure as an inglorious almost tried. Ultimately it’s the psychology of offence versus defence. In footballing terms it’s called, “keeping them under the cosh”. Keep the pressure up and keep the ball in their half as much as possible. That is much more dispiriting for a team than sticking most of your players in your own six-yard box.

Essentially it comes down to who feels under attack. That’s a psychological game changer.

*And certain demented control freaks who conduct such operas.


  1. Sunfish says:


    Without going into detail, white hats with guns are relevant to the suicide bomber problem. Or to a “teeth of the tiger” problem.

    Although, if AFO training is like the rest of British policing, I have little hope to offer. At least I can practice on my off time.

  2. JTW says:

    I’ve got a feeling the Russians will do what’s needed, they think pretty much like terrorists themselves after all. Sneaky guys :)
    They pretty much invented the concept.

  3. JuliaM says:

    “I would be happier if they let us fly in peace rather than go through the unpleasantness of the security opera and instead re-allocated resources to intelligence led operations to disrupt and catch terrorists. “

    The Israelis manage it.

  4. There are two things to remember on this.

    Firstly, aeroplanes are more vulnerable. Bombs there are usually fatal to all passengers and crew. Crowded ground spaces, on the other hand, offer a less vulnerable target overall.

    Secondly, intelligence activity protects all targets of the bombers: not just the aeroplanes. As has been noted, there are too many other targets for them all to be protected.

    So, a dual approach is required, in balance: intelligence gathering and protection of the more vulnerable or valuable targets.

    Best regards

  5. Lynne says:

    I suppose it depends on who the nutters are trying to intimidate. The London bombers, if you believe what they said in their individual pre-detonation farewell,I’m a homicidal jihadi cunt and you are all going to die speeches, thought we’d all be quaking in our boots. Didn’t happen. People went about their lives the next day just like always.

    Hitler bombing our cities flat didn’t succeed. The IRA didn’t succeed. These morons won’t succeed either.

  6. ivan says:

    Lynne, they are more likely to succeed this time because in the past we had strong leaders that knew what they were doing – this lot are pathetic weaklings that have emasculated the population in a series of knee-jerk reaction to press reports and the culture of having to be seen to ‘do something’, usually the wrong thing!

  7. NickM says:

    Thanks Sunfish. Obviously I’m not in a position to know.

    Obviously planes are top target but it if they are difficult as this latest atrocity shows, and Madrid, London… it is still possible to cause mass carnage elsewise. As far as the intimidation is concerned does it make people more frightened of flying that they might get blown up at 33,000 ft or sea-level?

    I think the 7/7 bombers had a more complex motivation. They only show the last few minutes of Tanweer’s 45 minute rant. Most of it is directed at his fellow Muslims for enjoying the fruits of the West – he goes on about imams in four bedroom houses with a Merc on the drive. 7/7 was probably meant at least as much as a “call to jihad” as an attempt to intimidate the infidels.

  8. This …

    “*And certain demented control freaks who conduct such operas.”

    … is the reason why we’re going to continue suffering the indignity, and inconvence, of that blasted ‘security’ opera.

  9. RAB says:

    I was in Heraklion airport on Crete back at the end o f the summer. It is a shithole of an airport and small with it.

    There was a Greek Air Traffic contollers strike called for 3pm and our flight to Bristol was scheduled for 1.55pm, consequently the place was jam packed with people trying to get the fuck out before the deadline.

    Now the Greeks have a really clever system for check in, fuckin genius level this is, no wonder the bloody country is bankrupt…

    You join the tortoise conga to check your bags right? Then hours later when you get to the desk, you think it’s all over right? Wrong! they weigh the bags and tag them, then send you off to another queue to have the fuckin things x rayed and boarded. Brilliant, just brilliant!

    Consequently there were about 2000 people jammed into a tiny hall, and nothing between them and the outside world but the glass windows and doors. There is no security check on entering the airport by road whatsoever, so you wouldn’t even need to be a suicide bomber to take out a thousand or so, just park your truck packed full of explosives with a short timer on it and jump on your mate’s motorcycle who is following you behind, and be away scott free!

    So yeah, I and the Geordie guy I was having a smoke with out the front saw Moscow coming a mile off.We even remarked how easy it would be.

  10. NickM says:

    Geordies… We have the gift. Alas not at football.

  11. Paul Marks says:

    Good post Nick.

    These “security” humiliations are not just cowardly – they are also daft.

    They do NOT prevent terrorism.

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