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USA strikes: Lone Ranger or terrorist cell?

USA strikes: Lone Ranger or terrorist cell?. 49878.jpeg

Twin strikes against the Twin Towers back in 2001 led the Bush regime to declare that the United States of America was "under attack". Thirteen years on, there is no such declaration after twin bomb blasts in Boston and another at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas - a sign of political maturity in the USA.

There can be little doubt that in 2001, the Bush regime might well have used the Texas fertilizer plant blasts to justify an invasion of Syria, Iran or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, coming on the back of the Boston bomb blasts. This time around, a dozen years later, there is a measured response using the proper law-enforcement channels, a clear sign of political maturity from the authorities, and from a nation which has gone through two Presidential elections in which race was not an issue. Commendable.

Before the conspiracy theorists and adrenalin merchants kick off, and sorry to spoil the fun, but it is improbable that the Texas explosions were caused by a terrorist strike. The fertilizer factory in West, near Waco, Texas, had around 55,000 pounds, or twenty tonnes, of anhydrous ammonia, which for a start must be stored in highly pressurized canisters and secondly, if released for any reason, becomes highly explosive when mixed with air.

But let us suppose, as a matter of conjecture, that the West blasts (apparently three) were caused by a bomb placed by a terrorist and let us imagine that the West and Boston strikes were connected, either perpetrated by the same person(s) or else by an integrated network of terrorist cells inside the United States of America.

If the perpetrators, in this scenario, did their homework properly, they would not have left a paper trail; they would have bought the materials they needed in cash, would have avoided looking up around security cameras, would have changed their clothing and appearance regularly, would not have used electronic means of communication and would have used several decoys in placing the explosives.

If they were several members of the same cell, working independently, it would be a nightmare for the Federal Security Services (FBI) to identify who these people were before the next attack. The investigators will already have a clear picture as to the type of explosive devices used and almost certainly will have traced where the materials were purchased. But without a paper trail, without a credit card payment, without any record of checking-in to hotels or motels, and if decoys were used when the explosives were planted (not the same person walking back and forth), then who to look for and where?

And where next? Miami? California? DC? The New York Subway? This, at the end of the day, is what the terrorist cell wants - to sow panic, insecurity and make a living out of it, whatever the political motivation behind the strikes, because like everything else, the economic factor is present. With terrorism comes arms smuggling, drug trafficking, prostitution rings and the further the net spreads, the more vulnerable it becomes.

As the strikes continue, the terrorist(s) feel more powerful as they increase their numbers of victims but in doing to, alienate the entire population against them and as people become more defiant, they become more vigilant and share information with the authorities. Just one of these leads can be the missing piece of the puzzle to dismantle the operation.

And here is the lesson from this exercise in conjecture. Human society cannot be defeated, however deep the hemorrhage, however great the carnage. The Soviet Union lost 26 million souls defeating Hitler but survived. The Irish were massacred for expressing their determination for independence but they got it and neither did the British public buckle in the midst of terrorist attacks from the IRA, funded to a large extent from NORAID in the USA.

It is this strength of the masses, a coming together with common human values of decency, respect for the next person, a community-based approach at home and a focus on development and not deployment overseas, which will always see towns, cities, regions and nations through, whatever the odds. The movies show us that Good triumphs over evil, a message as eternal as the scriptures written thousands of years ago.

And it is precisely this approach which we should defend and nurture in a globalized world of global values but also global disease and the dissemination of knowledge, a world in which anyone with basic computer skills can place in a search engine "How to make a bomb" and then go shopping. Most people do not; most people would not but just a few do, and can, and will. This is the post-Clausewitzian world in which the individual has the power to become an armed force against a State.

Previous lessons in the history book have shown us that the answer is not a top-down repressive approach, for instance censoring the Internet, because the ultimate alternative is to use an errand boy on a bicycle and sheets of paper for communication, easily burnt or flushed down a drain. The way forward in this globalized world is precisely what this article defends: a community-based governance, development overseas and common human values.

While there are nations which preach but do not practise such values, then the likelihood of what I am writing here becoming true is that much greater.

In conclusion, a word of comfort for the victims of terrorism (including State Terrorism and Social Terrorism) everywhere: the death of a human being is a tragedy but one which was predicted at birth. Life does not have a sell-by date and death does not choose ages or occasions. Being an inevitable part of life, death removes a person from our world but only physically because they live on in our memories, they live on in their children, they live on in their brothers and sisters. Remembering the good times keeps them alive and awards us the very best they offered, until time waves its wand and allows us to accept.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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