Friday, June 23, 2006

To Catch a Wannabe Terrorist

I was extremely relieved to hear that the FBI had arrested members of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell in Miami. Although we have since heard that they might better be described as "wannabe" terrorists, anyone who remembers Madonna wannabes of the 1980s knows that wannabes can be just as dangerous as the real thing. According to news reports these homegrown terrorists swore allegiance to Al Qaeda and planned to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Although they had no weapons and no real capability of actually attacking the Sears Tower (though they did acquire some nice boots courtesy of the FBI) and the "Al Qaeda Oath" they took was administered by an FBI agent who was only posing as a member of Al Qaeda, I think we can all agree that it's the thought that counts.

I'm glad that the FBI is taking the threat of wannabe terrorists seriously. I was afraid that was not the case because of an incident that happened to me recently. A few weeks ago I was in a local bar and although it was quite loud in there, I distinctly heard some people sitting at a table near me talking about "snakes on a plane." One of them was wearing a turban. I was understandably shocked to hear terrorists in my own neighborhood bar plotting a terrorist attack. I immediately went outside and called the police on my cell phone. At first the policeman who answered the phone sounded as shocked as I was, even letting down his decorum for a moment and using quite earthy language. "You mean they want to put mother****ing snakes on a mother****ing plane?!" he said. Then he began laughing and I got the distinct impression that he was not taking this threat seriously at all. When I asked to speak to his superior officer, I got the same response, surprisingly almost word for word. I know that policemen can be jaded but I was quite surprised that terrorism had suddenly become a joke to them. In the end these terrorists got away and are still free to hatch their venomous plans.

So I was very heartened to see that the FBI does not think terrorism is a joke no matter how ridiculous and pathetic the potential perpetrators may seem. It also made me happy to know that if the FBI is expending so many resources on wannabe Al Qaeda cells with very little ability to pull off a terrorist attack, that must mean that there are no actual Al Qaeda cells working in the United States. I think this also serves as a reminder to people of why they should vote Republican if we want to stay safe, and I bet we will be getting more such reminders in the months leading up to the election.

But while I'm glad the FBI shut down this potential terrorist cell, I wonder how many other wannabe terrorists there are out there. This is where I think one of those TV magazine news shows could help. One of my favorite shows to watch lately has been Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series where an NBC producer poses as a teenage girl in an Internet chat room and lures unsuspecting Internet predators to a house full of NBC cameras and policemen with arrest warrants. So I was thinking why couldn't this strategy also be used to capture potential terrorists? An NBC producer could pose as an Al Qaeda operative in a chat room and see how many potential terrorists bite. It would give some relief to the FBI, who would then be able to shift resources to other important areas in the War on Terror, it would help remind viewers of the threat we continue to face and it would discourage other potential terrorists. It might also inspire some citizens to mount sting operations of their own. I am planning to do my part. To any wannabe terrorists out there, consider yourself forewarned: The next time you meet a snake-handling Al Qaeda operative in a chat room, it might just be me.

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T. F. Stern said...

Just a rumor, I heard that William Jefferson, (D) Louisiana, was among the suspects but that he bought his way out with $90,000 cold hard cash from his freezer, just a rumor...

Liz Blondsense said...

Ah this is a great post. ;)

I was also thinking the same thing. If all they could nab was a wannabee terr'ist organization, then we are doing pretty darn good fighting terr'ism in the USA. They most certainly would have caught a real terr'ist organization by now if there was one. Right?

OutOfContext said...

I saw a lady on the news who works in a building caty-corner to the Sears Tower in Chicago. She recalled the horror of 9/11 and how it affected her sense of well-being at work. She had finally begun to feel comfortable and safe again and now she is terrified once more. This proves to me that the government is finally doing it's job again. The real threat of this cell is as incidental as the quality of it's boots. The key is the perceived threat. I hope the public is finally re-energized by righteous fear and the gridlock of complacency which has paralyzed America will be swept away.

Anonymous said...

They were talking about "Snakes on a Plane" staring Samuel L Jackson perhaps? The line the police officers were using was spoken by Jackson at the MTV movie awards a month or so back.

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