Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Today's top laugh, reserved for an article in the on-line publication for those who like high-button intellectual discussion as mental air-freshener, Slate.

Behold, "Why do so many terrorists have engineering degrees Mommy?"


Never mind that quite a few don't, or that the latest -- Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab -- isn't really an example of anything, other than a threadbare human resource who just so happens to have an alleged engineering education.

Anyway, as known to anyone who has ever attended college, some places will hand out degrees to even the most feeble among us just as long as they show up and pay cash.

Just look at all the not-engineers in cases DD has written about: the Zazi-dude here, Kamel Bourgass here, the guy who thought he was buying a truck bomb from the FBI here, the guy who wrote the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook here, Dhiren Barot here, and Hassan abu-Jihaad here -- for just a few examples.

In other words, depending on what newspaper database or collection of writings one consults, and how on defines terrorists, one can conclude many things about the nature of them, many things not absolutely guaranteed to be true.

It ain't science even though, in this case, it is pretending to be so.

Like "Why does all the terrorists go to engineering schools, Mommy?"

And then the journalist proceeds to answer his own question with a bunch of eloquent rationalizations, make-ups and other stuff designed to draw eyeballs and pass-arounds.


"In online postings, Abdulmutallab expressed concern over the conflict between his secular lifestyle and more extreme religious views," writes the Salon journalist.

"How should one put the balance right?" [Abdullmutallab] wrote.

"Terrorist organizations seem to have recognized this proclivity—in Abdulmutallab, obviously, but also among engineers in general."

Keep in mind, the Slate piece is not a dry humor column.

"Another possible explanation would be that engineers possess technical skills and architectural know-how that makes them attractive recruits for terrorist organizations," adds the Slate journo, Benjamin Popper, rather comically at some other point.

"In any case, their technical expertise may not be that useful, since most of the methods employed in terrorist attacks are rudimentary," he waffles.

DD would have never seen this 'cept for his buds at -- well, I can't print it but you can click it.

Those are some pretty girls!

Moving right along, another example of human frailty always present in the war on terror -- on both sides.

Another failed underwear bomber, this one before our current fun, but no recognition and notification -- until well after the fact. And because it was perhaps not aimed directly at us.

"A man tried to board a commercial airliner in Mogadishu last month carrying powdered chemicals, liquid and a syringe that could have caused an explosion in a case bearing chilling similarities to the terrorist plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

A Nairobi-based diplomat said the incident in Somalia is similar to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in that the Somali man had a syringe, a bag of powdered chemicals and liquid — tools similar to those used in the Detroit attack. The diplomat spoke on condition he not be identified because he isn't authorized to release the information.

"Barigye Bahoku, the spokesman for the African Union military force in Mogadishu, said the chemicals from the Somali suspect could have caused an explosion that would have caused air decompression inside the plane. However, Bahoku said he doesn't believe an explosion would have brought the plane down.

"The November incident garnered little attention before the Dec. 25 attack aboard a flight on final approach to Detroit. U.S. officials have now learned of the Somali case and are hastening to investigate any possible links between it and the Detroit attack, though no officials would speak on the record about the probe."

See here.

As said previously, the nation that always overreacts -- the one which behaves like a bully with a glass jaw nobly acting in protection of a schoolyard full of simpering children only guarantees more Abdullmutallabs.

"The head of a presidential delegation investigating the deaths of 10 people in eastern Afghanistan concluded Wednesday that civilians — including schoolchildren — were killed in an attack involving foreign troops, disputing NATO reports that the dead were insurgents," reported AP here.

"Asadullah Wafa, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, told The Associated Press by telephone that eight schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 14 were among the dead discovered in a village house in the Narang district of Kunar province ... A NATO official has said initial reports from troops involved in the fighting on Sunday indicated that those killed were insurgents — all young males.

"Several hundred Afghans protested the deaths Wednesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and in the capital of Kabul. In Jalalabad, they burned President Barack Obama's effigy and an American flag, chanting 'death' to Obama and Karzai.

"In Kabul, protesters chanted, 'Unity, unity, death to the enemy of Islam!' and a protester with a bullhorn called on Obama to 'take your soldiers out of Afghanistan.'"

"The Obama administration needs to take a clear, tough line with Yemen: Take care of the terrorism problem within your borders so you are no longer a threat to the United States and our allies in the region, or allow the international community to come in and clean it up for you," from former national security adviser to George W. Bush, Fran Townsend, by way of Armchair Generalist here.

Yes, in a country where a teacher earns $200/month, we definitely need the Obama adminstration to armtwist that place into bombing its troublemakers even more.

Finally, from Sunday:

[Where was] the machine that looks through your clothes at your ugly buck-naked self that was always on the news a year ago?

It's taken two days to show up as the allegedly technological salvation for all things in underwear bombs.

It will now obscure your private parts! No, it's still an invasion of privacy and some European nations won't use it! But they must because it will detect underpants bombers.

"So which would you pick? For the record, my wife and I decided scanning was the less invasive option," argues someone at a publication called Reason.

But would they agree to a human-assisted anal cavity search or having a gas spectrometry prong inserted to sniff for explosives?

"Wide use of airport body scanners depends on Obama," informs Reuters.

See today's collection here.

Potentially on the horizon:

Book bombs since it is only a matter of time until someone in the government remembers where they used to hide squirt guns and contraband in high school, and bans all books from flights.

Colostomy and urostomy bags, too, offer some potential, even with millimeter wave scanning in place.

There is also the 'plan' filled with something or other. (See Papillon.)

And then there is always the surgically implanted Joker bomb.

Added bonus: Not dependent on expertise of screw-up terror recruit. Potential flaw: Minimizing or coming up with adequate explanation for metal signature of cellphone detonator.


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