Score One For the Terrorists
Vol: 8 Issue: 22 Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Score One For the Terrorists
Terrorists the world over breathed a sigh of relief when the Transportation Safety Board forbade pilots from carrying weapons in the cockpit of commercial airliners. The measure would have allowed pilots to arm themselves against a possible cockpit invasion by terrorists.
The pilots assumed that since they are already trusted with taking off, flying and landing the aircraft safely [every single time] that there would also be the assumption that their judgement in emergencies would be at least as good as a neighborhood street cop.
Not so. The NTSB evidently feels as Cokie Roberts did — that having a gun in the cockpit would be too strong a temptation for a pilot to resist.
‘Maybe one of them might start fiddling with it, it goes off accidently, then where would you be?’ goes the thinking!!
Ever seen the cockpit of a commercial airliner? It is unlikely in the extreme that a pilot would have the time or the inclination to ‘play’ with anything. There are plenty of gadgets to play with already.
Arming pilots is no more dangerous than arming police, who mistakenly kill hundreds of innocents every year in the armed performance of their duty. Arming pilots would provide a two-fold benefit.
First it would have given them a fighting chance at life — for themselves and for their passengers. In the New Normal, a pilot who reports a cockpit intrusion has five minutes or less to live before being shot down by a US fighter.
An armed pilot against an armed cockpit intruder can only save the passengers and crew. Nothing he can do with a handgun at 35,000 feet is more dangerous than what the intercepting fighter has planned.
But it is the second benefit that makes the NTSB decision so baffling.
Terrorists armed only with box knives would have stood no chance against an armed crew. It is safe to assume they wouldn’t have even tried.
If the pilots had been armed on September 11, last year would not have been the deadliest year for terrorism in human history.
Patterns of Global Terrorism
The newly-released “Patterns of Global Terrorism” issued annually by the State Deparment said the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks inflated 2001’s casualty figures nine times above the previous record of 409 in 2000. Worldwide, terrorists struck targets 346 times last year.
While the report includes terrorist attacks in the Middle East in its overall calculations, the State Department splits attacks against Israel into different categories.
Some attacks are ‘terror attacks’ whereas others are viewed as military attacks by Palestinian ‘freedom fighters’ so only a portion of the Middle East violence is included.
More than half of the recorded terror attacks that made State’s list took place in our own hemisphere in Colombia. The report says that apart from US losses, September 11 was still the worst international terrorist incident ever. Citizens of 78 countries were killed in New York’s World Trade Center.
“Patterns of Global Terrorism” made no changes to the US list of “rogue states,” designating Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as sponsors of terrorism, while noting some improvement in the behavior of Khartoum and Tripoli.
“Sudan and Libya seem closest to understanding what they must do to get out of the terrorism business and each has taken measures pointing it in the right direction,” it said while noting that both countries needed to do more.
Iran Not Involved in 9/11
And while it also noted that Iran and Libya appeared to be taking slight steps away from supporting terrorist groups, it said Tehran continued to be “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” in 2001, mainly for its backing for anti-Israeli groups.
The report also draws the surprising conclusion that Iran was not involved in the September 11 attacks. It cited as evidence of that fact that Iran offered assistance to the United States in case US warplanes involved in the campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan were shot down.
It seems odd to me that Tehran, having been directly involved in exporting terror to the US for decades would get so much mileage out of a bogus offer of aid. Iran denied the allies use of their airspace for the war on terror.
Pilots not in their airspace are unlikely to be shot down over their territory. And apart from that single, bogus offer, Iran has continued to serve as a terrorist underground railway, safe haven and sponsor of al-Qaeda since the Afghan war started October 7.
– North Korea was guilty of a “troublesome” and “disappointing” effort to combat terrorism after initial signs of willingness to cooperate in the campaign, including its refusal to hand over four Japanese Red Army members who hijacked a Japan Airlines flight to North Korea in 1970, it said.
– In early May, the State Department said Damascus and Tripoli were trying to obtain chemical and biological weapons in violation of international conventions and accused Havana of furnishing them biological equipment and technology.
– Tuesday’s report says that Cuban leader Fidel Castro has “vacillated over the war on terrorism” since September 11, noting he had not objected to housing al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay but that Havana continued to provide haven to some 20 members of the Basque separatist group ETA and Colombian leftists.
– Syria was criticised for its continued support for anti-Israel groups.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation offered support for the US war against terrorism following the September attacks, but the report said it had taken only “limited action” and had been “slow to acknowledge terrorism problems at home.”
– In South Asia, Pakistan drew moderate praise for its crackdown on terrorism in conjunction with US-led operations in neighboring Afghanistan, but the report raised questions over Islamabad’s ability to curtail extremism that has raised tensions with nuclear rival India.
– The State Department also expressed concern about Hezbollah and Hamas activists in Latin America as well as reports that Basque and Northern Irish militants had infiltrated Colombia.
– According to the report, Hezbollah is present in the triborder area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, in northern Chile, in Colombia near the border with Venezuela, on Venezuela’s Margarita Island, and in Panama’s Colon Free Trade Zone.
– The Patterns of Global Terrorism report glossed over the Arab-Israeli conflict, in the main. The report noted that Palestinian terror attacks remained a severe threat to Israel and called for the Palestinian leadership to take ‘more steps’ to stop such violence.
The combination of the euphoria of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the relaxed moral standards of the previous administration, the runaway bull market and the anything goes attitude of the Roaring ’90’s conspired together to allow global terrorism to take root, organize and spread, virtually without interference.
It was like we had all been together on a decade long bender. The never ending and endlessly fascinating scandals of the Clinton era kept us glued to our television sets.
Well, not all of us. While we were learning about Monica Lewinsky, China was downloading the hard drives of our nuclear laboratories.
While we were learning about Whitewater, Osama bin-Laden’s terror cells were setting up shop across America.
Plenty of people have been sounding warnings. All through the nineties, Congress heard testimony about missing nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons production, increasing terrorist activity, the solemn pronouncements about the ‘inevitability’ of another attack . . . and when it came, it was a total shock.
The events of 9/11 shocked us out of our lethargy and we shook off the last vestiges of the Clinton Hangover.
The ‘Patterns of Global Terror’ Report is the price tag for the party.