Bringing an airliner down has been a big prize of terrorists since .. forever. It is hardly a new goal. The most recent U.S. security shift is a ban in airline cabins of all electronics larger than a cell phone on flights originating from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. It was reported that the federal government had conducted tests to decide whether or not such electronics are a viable threat. Apparently, the tests showed that the threat of disguising a bomb in electronics such as a laptop and infiltrating it onto a plane was do-able and so the ban was put into place.
Why a test was needed to be done to prove this is odd. As recently as a year ago February, we saw such a case. It was on Daallo Airlines. A terrorist blew himself out of an aircraft mid-flight and although there were some injuries sustained by other passengers, the plane returned safely to the ground. The plane’s departure had been delayed by an hour which may be reason the detonation occurred 20 minutes into flight before the plane had reached cruising altitude. Had the bomb exploded at that higher altitude, the damage would have amounted to more than a hole. This terrorist method of operation is known.
Given the TSA’s abysmal and widely published failure rate at screening, why should it be surprising that a terrorist should be able to get a weapon onto a plane? It is entirely within the realm of possibility.
CCTV footage showed two airport personnel at the Mogadishu Airport handing off the laptop to the terrorist of the Daallo event, beyond the screening area. That among the thousands of airport personnel and vendors working at hubs across the globe, a terrorist might find an accomplice is likewise plausible.
Some folks have expressed surprised concern that terrorists are getting more sophisticated. Why wouldn’t they?
The formula of knee jerk banning of items or the addition of seemingly arbitrary security protocols is not reasonable. A large Nikon camera may not be a laptop but it could surely be fitted with a bomb. There are many examples of electronics whose size would allow entry into a cabin given today’s regulations, items that could be lethally configured.
The question isn’t if it’s possible but rather why we haven’t seen more attacks. If we continue to focus on the bomb and not the bomber, we will just continue to chase our tails and never get in front of the terrorist threat.