Al Qaeda’s Got an Urgin’ for a Surgeon


Why so serious?

According to government warnings, al Qaeda is trolling around looking for doctors who might be willing to implant explosives into people. Because apparently they think The Dark Knight is a documentary.

This is silly on so many levels. First, this explosive would be next to useless for anything other than killing the person it is inside of. The mass of the body would act as a shield and you’d have no real shrapnel flying around. Just lots of chunky salsa. Second, how would one detonate this? I picture someone with a fuse sticking out of their liver. Ok, they’d probably use a cell phone or something, but that just complicates matters further. Third, how many people would die from an infection or complications before they had a chance to detonate? Fourth, really guys? That’s the best you can come up with? Losers.

What’s really stupid, however, is the government warning about this. It serves only to make people paranoid and, realistically, I think it would be unlikely they could find an implanted bomb through normal screening methods. From CNN’s article on this:

“As a precaution, passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place. These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport,” [spokesman Nicholas] Kimball said.

So what additional screen procedures are these? If it’s something that won’t show up on the standard x-ray/metal detector arrangement, how are they supposed to find it? Are we all going to get free full-body CAT scans now?

This s something that can be filed under “Ignore Completely”, except for the fact that now that our government has brought it up they’ll have to find a “fix” somehow. So, yeah, probably coming soon to an airport near you, full-body CAT scans.

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10 Responses to “Al Qaeda’s Got an Urgin’ for a Surgeon”

  1. Warren Says:

    No, not CAT scans. Think proctological.

    I think you’re thinking too tactically about the purpose of such a bomb. You seem to be looking at it from the POV of, ‘how much physical damage or how many casualties can I inflict with this method?’ when I don’t think that would be the goal of a tur’rist.

    It wouldn’t take much of a pop to knock a hole in a fuselage, so you probably could get away with using a relatively low-yield device, wrapped lovingly about in 180 lbs. of fresh tur’rist meat, if you wanted to knock down an airplane.

    However, setting off something like that in a crowded area would create one hell of a profound psychological effect. You’d have the horror/squick factor of it, plus the knowledge (in the general populace) that there’d be no way to know, from the outside, who might be wired. So much for any more public events – ever.

    Now if you accompany this with a tur’rist volunteer who’s deliberately infected himself with some vicious pathogen, you’ve got an extremely effective and quite literally dirty bomb.

    • Michael Says:

      I would say, the best defense is a good offense. I think Al Queda is “on the run” and I hate using buzz phrases. But if you look at the Arab Spring, the people of the middle east want all the same stuff we do. And as the capture of Bin Laden shows, terrorists are just like skin heads only crazier. They are mostly brainwashed poor kids who’s parents were so poor they had to send their kids to madrases just for food. Also, how can Bin Laden hate the west and love Nestle and Coke products at the same time? Not just Coke but Coke AND Pepsi. That says it all. When push comes to shove and more middle easterners get freedom, they will want mtv, starbucks and ipads. As I said, there are women defying islamic traditions in Pakistan to be runway models. Runways models in Pakistan? Yeah, so you can see where that’s heading. The real solution, don’t fly. Force the airlines into bankruptcy until they implement real security policies and the employees have to police the process, sometimes to their own detriment but for the good of the country. Oh there I go agin wandering through lala land where people do things logically. I’m out.

      • Chris Says:

        Actually, it’s the TSA that implements security policies, not the individual airlines. Also, yes, the mere fact that he liked Coke and Pepsi is a sure sign of a deranged mind. Everyone knows Pepsiphiles or horrible people. ;)

  2. Chris Says:

    Yeah, well, even if you punch a hole in the side of an airplane that doesn’t necessarily bring it down. Consider the Southwest flight that had problems like that recently, or planes that had the tops blow off back a couple decades ago and still landed fine.

    As for public events, yeah, I don’t think that would be a problem either. The first time or two it happened people would go nuts. After a bit it would just be a part of the new reality. Rather like how people in London in the 1970s didn’t stop going out despite the IRA bombings.

    • Warren Says:

      Not so sure about that. I think we like to think we’d be able to spot a tur’rist and maybe even Bring Him Down in an All-American Way (with lots and lots and lots of bullets, natch, since all real Americans got guns on ’em). But you get a whiff of random guys wandering around with bombs invisibly implanted in themselves, capable of going off at any time, and I bet you’d see a level of hysteria in this nation at least as bad as the post-September ’01 mood was.

      A well-designed terrorist action doesn’t really do much strategic harm to the enemy so much as it disrupts his ability to function, and increases his suspicion of everything around himself. That can, eventually, paralyze the enemy, or render him so suspicious that he turns on his own people, and on others, dissipating his energies so entirely that he collapses. We’ve already seen that happen.

      You live in Arizona, as I do. The level of insanity over illegal immigrants is awful; you’re a direct witness of what happens when a minor problem gets inflated to the level of national attention, with all its concomitant disinformation, misinformation, and wild rumor-mongering – and we’re technically allied with Mexico. It’s not like the Rodriguez kids are actively blowing up the Kindergarten, yet (via SB 1070) we’re perfectly willing to treat all Mexicans as dangerous felons.

      I wouldn’t so readily discount the Qaeda being serious about looking to surgically implant bombs. I think it would be very psychologically effective, and using that sort of attack would be evidence of a deep and shrewd understanding of the American psyche.

  3. Kristian Says:

    I’m with Warren, I’m afraid. You may be thinking too rationally.

    Terrorism isn’t about actual damage to the ‘enemy’s physical infrastructure. It’s about making two hour waits for the TSA professional gropers seem normal.

    I wasn’t in the UK in the 70’s, but I think the mindset is different: ‘Scary Muslims’ now vs ‘Silly Irish’ back then.

    The correct frame of mind is ‘ignore them’.

    • Chris Says:

      I still don’t buy that it would take people to a new level panic. You remember the underwear bomber? We all laughed at him. I’m fairly sure the first time someone blows out their intestines and doesn’t hurt anyone else, we won’t be able to stop laughing.

      • Warren Says:

        To borrow from Saavik, humor is a difficult concept. ;)

        Humor is almost totally subjective, and I think it’s arguable that it would take a relatively morbid sense of humor to laugh about Tur’rist Spaghetti-O’s all over a flight concourse.

        Underwear Bomber was funny because his attempt failed, and his junk caught fire – which is pretty much exactly what most of us would have wished on him in the first place. Abdul Al-Hazred walking into a Starbucks and exploding himself into red ropy smelly goo, however, just isn’t funny. It’s disgusting, it turns the facility into a biohazard that requires extensive cleaning (or closes it down completely), it might include collateral damage, and the blecch factor takes the rest of the humor out of the room.

        On top of that, you then have increased demands from a grossed-out citizenry for further measures to detect and stop intestine bombers.

        No, if they pull this one off, it won’t be a case of national laughter. There’d just be too much real, actual gore for that to be the response, I think.

        • Chris Says:

          Yeah, but I just doubt anyone could fit enough explosives into themselves in way that they’d stay alive long enough to actually do anything about it, and have it be enough explosives to actually do damage to anything other than themselves.

          • Warren Says:

            I suppose it depends on how many Chipotle’s burritos we’re talking about.

            Actually, that could be a great way to measure the power of the blast. If all it does is rattle the walls and mess up the paint, it’s a 2 Cb-powered bomb. If it clears out an entire city due to toxic fumes, it’s closer to a 50 KCb event.

            More seriously, finding room for the explosives is definitely a consideration – though a shaped charge with an emission point through the sternum or stomach could be directed to some extent, like a shotgun blast, perhaps, and spray some shrapnel (and innards) a pretty good distance.

            Again, I just don’t think it’s about the total explosive effect. I think it’s much more about the psychological one, and I have a feeling here that you’re using your own psychological resilience as a measure against that of the US in general. My experience suggests that most Americans don’t have much of a sense of humor about the blood-n-guts stuff. Those of us who pissed ourselves watching (frex) ‘Black Sheep’ are in the minority.


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