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Abaya, Burqa, Chador: The Fashion ABC of the jihadist bomber

Reader comment on item: Niqab Security Outrages at Airports

Submitted by Alfonso Valdes (United States), Aug 4, 2010 at 12:08

First, you would probably have been detained for taking pictures of the situation you encountered.

Second, I note that the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber failed. Not being an expert on explosives, this tells me that to pack a sufficiently large explosive charge and a reliable detonation mechanism is difficult. To build in a margin for error, one over-engineers, but this requires a voluminous garment to conceal. Like, say, an abaya or burqa or chador, the fashion ABCs of the jihadist bomber.

It is worth noting that the only successful attacks against commercial airline flights were the near-simultaneous and apparently coordinated 2004 attacks by two Chechen Black Widows. Maybe your research can find more, but I cannot. This incident received comparatively modest news coverage here, probably because no American citizens or targets were involved.

Burqa bombers, not all female, are fairly common in Iraq. These attacks have high casualty counts, because a male bomber with a bomb under a jacket on a sweltering day usually cannot get past the checkpoint and detonates there, killing a couple of security guards. A burqa bomber passes unchallenged to a more crowded area of the market or whatever the target is, and kills dozens.

I also recall recent cases of burqa bombers in Iran and Russia.

While only the Chechen attack involved commercial air traffic, the frequency and effectiveness of the burqa bomber on the ground tells me it is only a matter of time before we see a grim repeat. By giving burqas a pass at security checkpoints, and not just at airports, we effectively have let the jihadists play a winning hand and then take those cards back to play the hand again when it suits them. Also, it is only a matter of time before we see a burqa bomber at a crowded site in the West.

This note merely deals with the burqa as a means to conceal a bomb. The burqa as an enabler of crime or an unchallenged disguise for criminals is a discussion for another day.

Submitting....

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