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Slapstick War Against Dead Serious Terror

Reader comment on item: Time to Profile Airline Passengers?
in response to reader comment: Plight of Passengers

Submitted by Rakshas 10 Anan (India), Aug 29, 2006 at 17:46

Undermining the intelligence of those out to terrorise will get us nowhere. Blaming the passengers is easy because they are Muslim, but we cannot wish them away unless the Airlines stop selling tickets to them.

The 12 men from the same neighbourhood in one little suburb of Mumbai, obviously had group bookings and return tickets. One wouldn't expect terrorists to operate like that. It must be the responsibility of the Airlines and Visa authorities to thoroughly investigate prospective fliers, especially if they happen to be Muslims of a certain age! In this case, two of them were bearded, while the rest were clean shaven. They stuck to each other, and didn't pretend to be strangers. The flight had already been delayed for 22 hours, and they had obviously spent all that time at the airport. So they looked forward to sleeping in comfort on the plane that was half-empty, also given the long distance left to still cover.

These are unusual times, and while carrying their belongings in transparent plastic bags, one guy's mobile phone fell down, so another one picked it up and returned to him. These men are frequent fliers, and they reported that they knew the procedures well, and its just that being tired, they wanted to go in the back and sleep! And they had proceeded to do just that by the time the plane had been turned around! None of the passengers had found anything amiss in their behaviour, nor did anyone make a complaint. If the potential terrorists intended to go to the rear of the plane and blow it apart mid-air using mobile phones, what would the F-16s escort have achieved? I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but the question that simply begs mention here is, "was there a deliberate plan to make an example of this group as a warning to the real terrorists?" And will it stop them?

At the airport itself, before boarding the plane, a policeman had come and quizzed the men! If there was anything suspicious about them, it was important to have taken preventive measures at that stage itself! On the plane, the sky marshals are taught to shoot first and ask questions later, and here, they chose to order F-16s!!! It is important to mention that there were White passengers on-board who found nothing alarming about their behaviour, and objected to the rough treatment being given to them once the plane had returned to Amsterdam, but two of these White men were also roughly arrested for their objections. Thereafter, the treatment given to the arrested men was extremely unjust, on mere suspicion. This utterly defeats the purpose and seriousness of anti-terrorist measures, which will hardly be effective against cold-blooded hardcore terrorists. The whole charade is like a realtime spoof that could have been avoided if the authorities concerned had shown better understanding of how to stop terrorists without subjecting innocent passengers to humiliating treatment. My question is, okay, you don't want Muslims, then why sell them tickets in the first place? And who is accountable for harrassment of legitimate paid-up passengers?

I am reminded here of the incident in Durban when Gandhi was pushed out of the train because of his colour; or those days in British India where everything from elite hospitals to hotels and clubs were the exclusive preserve of the Whites, and there were boards all over the place saying, "Dogs and Indians not allowed!"

Jews and Gypsies have also faced terrible discrimination and victimisation especially in Europe. An era has passed by. If we are to adopt inhuman methods to humiliate the innocent in this manner, then we too will be feeding into the same evil that controls the terrorists. "Collateral damage" is a terrible additon to our civilised lexicon, but the acts of the Islamists/jihadis are so despicable, that unorthodox methods will be necessary to hunt down and defeat them, as well as punish those who shelter them, like for example, Musharraf's Pakistan.

If the authority to inflict collateral damage is vested in the kind of people witnessed in this particular incident, we are simply likely to have more of Menezes-type disasters, while the terrorists continue to be provided safe haven and support by the frontline ally in the War Against Terror.

My concern is that in these 2-odd weeks, there have been so many false alarms, it seems like an epidemic that will ultimately bring about the collapse of the passenger airlines. Such incidents merely serve to undermine the confidence and comfort of air travellers, Muslims and non-Muslim alike. Is there anything that can be done to avoid it other than the current slapstick response to a serious threat?


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