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Terror plot foiled?


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

SevereAs I write this morning, news is just reaching sjhoward.co.uk towers of a foiled terror plot to blow up planes in mid-flight. In response to this, hand baggage has been banned on aircraft departing from the UK – all that is now allowed is a clear plastic bag containing travel documents. And medications. And glasses. But that’s it. Except for baby food. Oh, and wallets. But not much, really, no. Forgot to mention keys – they’re still allowed. Oh, and ‘small personal items’. Which I guess doesn’t include small personal explosives. And everybody’s being hand searched, and the clear plastic bags are being X-rayed for reasons that aren’t clear to me. US flights are having two searches, just to make sure, and you’re not allowed to take liquids on board. Except the baby milk, but you have to taste that to proove it’s safe. Books and newspapers are too dangerous to take on board, because you could give someone a pretty nasty paper cut. It’s beyond parody.

Really, this is quite a wonderful idea. Everybody is carrying an identical clear plastic bag containing identical passports and tickets. How long before everybody ends up with somebody else’s passport and tickets? That’ll complicate things a bit.

The terror threat level has been raised to ‘Critical’ – the highest possible level. Or at least, it has in some places. The MI5 website says it’s ‘Critical’, but the new exciting important Intelligence.gov.uk reckons it’s only ‘Severe’. Good to see a unified approach. And the police have just been ‘explaining’ the threat level. ‘Critical’ means that an attack is expected imminently. The police say they’ve foiled this plot, aren’t aware of another, but it’s possible. So they’ve raised the level from ‘Severe’, where an attack is ‘Highly likely’, to one where an attack is ‘expected imminently’. Even though threre’s apparently no specific threat. Yup, this is the new intelligence logic.

Why any organised group of terrorists would bother trying to smuggle bombs in hand luggage anyway, I really don’t understand. It’s far too risky. It only takes one of them to be discovered for an organised security response to prevent the others happening. There are many ways of getting explosives on to an aircraft that stand less chance of being discovered, as shown in Whistleblower a couple of years back (and I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting those loopholes have all been closed). Why go with the riskiest option? Organsied terrorists wouldn’t.

Perhaps the new security’s a good thing. I got on a flight last Friday – and off at the other end – without having my ID checked once. My passport never left my pocket from entering the airport to leaving at the other end. There’s a lot of tightening to be done, if you ask me. But then, I flew with an airline that charged extra for hold baggage – they’ll be rubbing their hands with glee today…

This 920th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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