The Body Bomb

The US embassy in Benghazi  (Nir Elias/Reuters)

The US embassy in Benghazi (Nir Elias/Reuters)

As a result of intelligence indicating al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may be in the final stages of planning an attack against unspecified U.S. interests, the government closed 22 embassies and consulates from North Africa to the Middle East on Sunday. A global travel alert for Americans is also active, and it’s possible these precautions could continue indefinitely.

According to members of the House Intelligence Committee, the closures were based on several factors, including a warning from Interpol about all the recent prison breaks staged by al Qaeda—which flooded areas with convicted terrorists and other criminals—and specific intelligence about a potential attack in Yemen.

“I think we know a lot more about the when than the where,” Rep. Adam Shiff said recently. “But the when was very specific in terms of Sunday. Obviously, that may continue and the closures may continue. The travel warning is more extensive. But this is not the usual kind of chatter, not the more generalized ‘death to the Americans’ or ‘death to great Satan.’”

This new threat comes near the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Sunday is known as Laylet al-Qadr, the Night of Power. It’s an important day for Muslims everywhere and I sincerely hope it isn’t overshadowed by some horrible terrorist attack. It may be the bad apples that ruin the bunch—radical Islamists causing others to distrust the entire religion—but I assure you the “good apples” outnumber them.

And it’s about time good Muslims catch a break, don’t you think?

Bomb maker Ibrahim Asiri (The Daily Beast)

Bomb maker Ibrahim Asiri (The Daily Beast)

Unfortunately, it’s the bad Muslims that you see on the news regularly. And few are worse than Saudi-born Ibrahim Hassan Asiri, a bomb maker intent on wreaking havoc worldwide. According to John Pistole—chief of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)—the still-at-large fugitive represents America’s “greatest threat” and should be considered a “clear and present danger.” Asiri was responsible for numerous bomb plots—including a failed attempt by his brother to assassinate a Saudi government official with a bomb hidden in a body cavity (it exploded in what had to be his ass and only killed him, not his target)—and designed the underwear bomb worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab during his failed attempt to bomb a Northwest Airlines plane in 2009.

Asiri is a bad dude, and you never know where he will strike next.

I was channel surfing earlier and came across one of those political discussion shows. I can’t remember which one exactly. Anyway, they were talking about terrorism and someone mentioned Asiri—someone from the U.S. Justice Department who could only say so much, I think. This guy mentioned how Asiri recently designed an improved underwear bomb, one capable of avoiding detection at airport security checkpoints. That was nothing new, of course. And honestly, it didn’t freak me out nearly as much as his next revelation.

Although this information came out over a year ago, I’m just hearing it now: Asiri had plans to make some kind of liquid explosive that could be ingested by someone and detonated at their target. This would obviously be the ultimate suicide bomb, especially since it would be virtually undetectable. I’m not sure how you set off a surgically implanted improvised explosive device, but discovering one must be a real pain in the ass—quite literally when you consider how Asiri’s brother went out.

Honestly, news like this makes me wary of ever traveling again, at least outside the continental United States. I know that’s ridiculous since it’s only a matter of time before domestic terrorists start employing similar techniques. Now we have to wonder if that person sitting next to us on the plane or standing behind us in line drank a bomb-laden banana daiquiri before leaving the house. And if they did, how will they set it off? Do they have some kind of breath mint that reacts with stomach acid to detonate the explosive? Better yet, when is this supposed to happen?

Asiri's latest underwear bomb design (The Jewish Press)

Asiri’s latest underwear bomb design (The Jewish Press)

There is plenty of doubt, paranoia and fear out there—even twelve years after the attacks of September 11th—and things like this only make them worse. I never condone violence, murder or anything that might harm innocent people, but using a weapon like this ingestible explosive is just plain wrong. Yes, this is a different age and the rules set forth in the Geneva Convention are not always followed—especially by extremists of any kind, as if we would expect them to—but sending out suicide bombers who can slip undetected into the general population would be tantamount to pulling a gun at a fist fight. It just isn’t fair and it just isn’t right.

With any luck, Ibrahim Hassan Asiri will be found and apprehended soon. While this likely won’t prevent the development of ingestible bombs—someone will undoubtedly step up to fill his shoes—it should delay things for a while. And I certainly hope we can prevent more deaths, even of those asked to sacrifice their lives for their religion, their beliefs or their cause.

Death will come to us all eventually, so why rush it?

Posted on August 5, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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