On December 25 tragedy was averted when a gang of passengers took down the underwear bomber before their plane landed at Detroit Metro Airport. While I like to think that angry passengers have proven themselves once again to be a much greater deterrent to terrorism than the entire alphabet of National Security departments, I suspect something else happened.
After the shoe bomber failed to do anything other than embarrass himself, it became standard practice for all passengers to remove their shoes upon entering a metal detector prior to a flight. Now, I’m no expert on Middle Eastern culture, but I’m fairly certain that holds some kind of significance, since hurling a shoe is an incredible insult.
I suspect that al Qaeda didn’t want the underwear bomb to go off. If the plane actually had crashed, it would have taken years to reconstruct what happened, and it’s highly doubtful that we would have ever learned where the bomb was hidden. Now that we do know, TSA is preparing for its most invasive and embarrassing searches to date. I think this is intentional; al Qaeda wants to see how far we111et the government intrude on us before we put our bare feet down.
Personally, I would rather just chuck it all and take the risk. September 11 was perpetrated with common items that were allowed aboard U.S. flights. And the underwear bomb happened despite all the background checks, no-fly lists, wiretaps, and 3 oz. limits on shampoo. Ordinary Americans have thwarted every terrorist attempt since Flight 93. I think we can trust free men to defend themselves better than any government agency. In fact, I’d stake my life on it.