The explosives-laden underwear

The explosives-laden underwear–worn by an airline passenger who had previously been flagged as a potentially dangerous fanatic, and who had paid cash for his ticket and had no checked luggage–was the terrorist’s weapon of choice, one that could have blown a hole in the side of Northwest Airlines’ Detroit-bound Flight 253 on Christmas Day, killing hundreds of innocents. But it is not a weapon to be effectively countered with the deployment of hundreds of thousands of American combat troops. Nor can it be stopped by the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of planes, subs and missiles deployed in the  war Zones.

In response to the 9/11 hijackers, armed with simple hand held weapon cost a couple hundred dollars at most, US threw millions and millions of dollars and, more important, attention at conventional military responses while neglecting the difficult police work and the intelligence evaluation and civilian-focused technology necessary to thwart homeland attacks. Yes, there are evildoers out as they are on move. But they are often the products of the best of Western education who, as examples ranging from the lead 9/11 hijackers–the Hamburg group–to the elite University College London-educated engineer in the latest incident demonstrate, move more easily in urbane Western societies than in Afghan villages.

There is no “war” against terrorism. What George W. Bush launched and Barack Obama insists on perpetuating that it simply does not qualify on any pretext so concocted for such a frustrating war on Terror and making fool of everyone on the earth. Not if by war one means doing the obvious and checking a highly suspicious air traveller like ‘Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s underwear to see if explosives have been sewn in.

Preventing terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland has nothing to do with occupying vast tracts of land or winning the hearts and minds of backward villagers whom it is falsely depict as surrogates of an evil empire, as US did in Vietnam and is now doing in Afghanistan. What is needed is smart police work to catch these highly mobile fanatics, and that begins with actually reading and then acting on the readily available intelligence data.

It requires detectives with brains and not generals with firepower. (