This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

I Wanna Be Like Richard Reid

Another wannabe terrorist has failed to detonate his bomb on an international flight. This time, the device was hidden in his pants. Apparently.

The fear of being blown up on board a plane is not new. And every time there is a near-miss, nations fall over each other to announce new ways in which they will heighten security. On this occasion, there will be more body searches, passengers will only be allowed one item of hand luggage, and people who are wearing bibs emblazoned with the words "DEATH TO THE WEST" will not be given seats over the wing.

I'm a big fan of not dying on my next transatlantic flight. I'm also a big fan of not having to wait in line too long, not having to watch my carefully packed luggage being stuffed back together without so much as an iron in sight, and not being interrogated under spotlight because I'm not carrying enough stuff, or too much stuff. It's not necessarily as obvious as it sounds which right is more important.

Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was about as close as you can get to being a terrorist without actually being arrested. He was being watched by the world's intelligence agencies, his father had reported him twice out of concern, and he had known links to Al-Qa'eda. He wasn't on a "no-fly" list - fair enough you can't stop everyone with extremist views from flying - but is it rude to ask: if this guy was of such interest, WHY ON EARTH was he not called into the security office as he checked in, grilled about the reason for his visit, and searched from head to toe? Am I being dense in drawing that the conclusion that there is little point in having lists of suspected extremists, little point in the vast array of intelligence work going on behind the closed doors of MI6, MI5, the CIA and every other anti-terrorism organisation, if on identifying said persons of interest they are waved to their aisle seats with an extra packet of salty snacks? And if foreign airports don't have the up-to-date body scanners and security systems that would have stopped Mutallab (and we're not talking rocket science here) why are we allowing people to fly into our country from them?

None of us mind the extra checks if it really is going to avert a tragedy, but it seems it is just the innocent who will be subjected to them. An outcome familiar to those unfortunate enough to wander into any of Blandmore's "dispersal order" zones on weekends when The Inspector In Charge of Counting Dispersals in the Dispersal Order Zone is on duty.

Fortunately, we can all draw comfort from the fact that modern day terrorists, whilst ever more ambitious, appear to be increasingly incompetent.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.


Blogger MPS Probbie said...

Decent security measures that are actually secure won't happen - at least in this country - because the very people who are sneering at the Americans now would be first in line to cry 'racist' and 'Stasi state' if suspicious types WERE given special treatment.

28 December, 2009 01:05

Blogger pjt said...

Interestingly enough, NY Times reports:
"Amsterdam’s airport has 15 of these machines — more than just about any airport in the world — but an official there said Sunday that they were prohibited from using them on passengers bound for the United States, for a reason she did not explain."

28 December, 2009 07:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American Security Services will certainly be thrashing around looking for someone this side of the pond to blame.

You can bet your bottom dollar that if some poor'sharp-end' worker here had overlooked a fraction of this amount of information in the current climate their feet wouldn't touch for ground for Reg 15s, or the civvie equivalent.

28 December, 2009 11:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opulently I agree but I contemplate the collection should acquire more info then it has.

28 December, 2009 11:24

Blogger timfg said...

And none of the security measures bear any statistical scrutiny...

28 December, 2009 12:21

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

There is no way in hell he was acting alone, and it was more than likely just a small mistake in the weapon mix which averted disaster - just like the last two big attacks over here on 21/7 and the haymarket. They only need to be lucky once for lots of people to die and for scores more to be injured. Nice to see the profile of the genuine threat being clear as a bell and as far as possible from the white middle aged commuter that we are constantly told should also be in considered because "no one knows what the current terrorist threat profile is"


Everyone knows what the profile is and what it is not but thanks to dickheads like MacPherson, everyone is so terrified of being branded a racist that they will ignore the elephant in the room in lieu of keeping people safe and tackling the threat head on.

28 December, 2009 16:51

Anonymous Matt M said...

One thing it certain. Anyone on the watch list that comes to the airport is going to get strip searched. Underwear is going to checked for anything that does not belong. Pity you if you happen to have the same name as a terrorist suspect.

Smart people will start traveling without underwear, just like they wear slip-off shoes now.

28 December, 2009 21:14

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, MCM. I can not be the only person to think of this but surely the most tempting targets are the long queues at security. Even a small bomb (or a few as 0n 7/7) would cause a panic and shut down the airspace over the UK (and probably the USA)

Joseph K.

28 December, 2009 21:14

Blogger English Pensioner said...

What appals me is the fact that if someone merely alleges that they saw you touch a child it gets on your record and you can be banned from working with children. No evidence seems to be required.
However, when it comes to terrorism where it seems that such an approach would be eminently sensible and they actually have substantiated reports, nothing seems to be done. Surely we should adopt the child protectionists' mantra "If just one person can be saved .........."

28 December, 2009 23:49

Anonymous Blue Lamp said...

mmmmmmm unfortunately the Yanks favour (or is that favor?) technological solutions.

Good old-fashioned British policing, ie knowing that Anglo-Saxon grannies and commuters are a lot less likely to bring mayhem, is what's called for.

But what chance I ask myself?

29 December, 2009 21:21

OpenID inspectorgadget said...

Here is a plan:

1. Don't keep invading Muslim countries and killing hundreds of thousands of their people.

2. Don't leave all the front-line security at Airports in the hands of minimum wage staff of dubious motivation and origin.

Just a thought.

30 December, 2009 09:16

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30 December, 2009 12:05

Blogger uniform said...

Obomber is not happy.

What this situation calls for is an international busy body brigade to investigate so that "lessons can be learned"

Yes, its time for the IPCC to spread its wings and go multi-national.

Once ,when checking in via the supposedly quick line business class route a skinny white chavette ,security check out ,thing ,told me my warrant card ,in the wallet ,was not worth much in here ,if Al and his kiyada gang got bombing.

No doubt if it had kicked off she would have thrown herslef on the swarthy looking male wearing the back pack, and taken one for the team.

Since I had saved for the trip I resisted the temptation to slap its friggiun face over and over, and then some more.

31 December, 2009 12:11

Blogger Dave H said...

There's a much unexplored dimension to this: what use are the 72 virgins going to be when your act of martyrdom blew your nads off?

31 December, 2009 15:40

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