Some in Britain have come up with an ingenuous way of countering the threat of jihad: They pretend it does not exist.
One would think this would be rather difficult in the wake of the recent terrorist attempts in London and Glasgow, but the jihad-deniers use these very incidents to make their case. The failure of the bombs to go off, they argue, is proof that the would-be terrorists were an assortment of bungling fools. What's more, they extend this characterization to all those who swear by the cause. On this view, the whole concept of jihad is merely a silly concoction of some misguided dolts.
An article titled Evil plotters? More like sad and crackpot which ran recently in the UK Times offers a startling example of this line of thinking. This is what its author, the well-known British commentator Matthew Parris, writes:
Something is changing in the public mood, and I think it's this: terrorism is beginning to look a bit stupid. Those pictures of that idiotic and slightly overweight fellow with his clothes burnt off looked pathetic, undignified. It has occurred to even the meanest of intellects that concrete doesn't burn. And it isn't just the technical competence of alleged British terrorists that people are beginning to doubt: it's the whole jihadist idea. What world are they aiming for? Most British Muslims, just like most British everyone-else, think it's all pie in the sky: all rather silly. Yes, silly. Not "evil" as the red tops would have it. [...] We're not talking anything as clever as Evil here: we're talking Weird, we're talking Crackpot, we're talking Sad. The idea of using a Jeep to make a terminal explode was, in the latest lingo, a bit gay.
The trivialization and lightheartedness are hardly appropriate, especially since it was only due to sheer luck that the attacks did not translate into mass carnage. Explosives experts have repeatedly confirmed that had the London's terror plot gone as planned hundreds would have been engulfed by the blast and the accompanying fireball. Neither are all would-be terrorists mere inept bunglers. Does Mr. Paris need to be reminded of that fatal morning of July 7, 2005? Does he recall the carnage that was unleashed then? Does he remember the destroyed double-decker and the twisted underground carriages splattered with blood? Did that look like the work of some blathering ‘crackpots' or like a horrific terrorist attack? It is only a matter of good fortune that Britain has not been hit with more strikes like this. Last year Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, then the head of Britain's counterintelligence service MI5, revealed that her agency was monitoring at least 30 high-priority plots. At one point they were tracking more than 200 hundred cells with over 1500 aspiring jihadists among them. Such is their determination that London Police Commission Sir Ian Blair warned that it was all but inevitable that some would succeed. How irresponsible, then, for editorial writers to trivialize the danger when those most familiar with its extent are almost certain that Britain will be hit again. Worse still, there is a very real possibility that the next strike will make July 7 look like a minor incident. Various investigations and sting operations in the last couple of years have uncovered a number of plots of breath-taking audacity. A Muslim convert by the name of Dhiren Barot was, among other things, laying plans to detonate a dirty bomb and flood the London underground by breaching the river Thames. An Islamist cell was scheming to bring down a British Airways airliner with bare hands. The idea was to purchase thirty tickets on a British Airways flight and then batter their way into the cockpit. There were also plots to poison London's water supplies and to attack a shopping center with a giant fertilizer bomb.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more plots in the works some of which are no doubt even more destructive and which may well come to our attention only after they have exacted their terrible toll.
Although we cannot predict when and how they will strike next, what we do know is that many of those who plan these atrocities are intelligent and well-educated individuals, not at all drifting dimwits as some would have us believe. We would do well to remember that the ringleader of London's 2005 terror strike - Mohammad Sidique Khan - was a respected teacher. Those responsible for the most recent attempts in London and Glasgow are all highly educated professionals. One of them, Dr. Mohammed Asha, is a neurologist who earned his appointment at a prestigious university hospital on the strength of his distinguished academic record. Another, Kafeel Ahmed, who apparently drove the explosives-laden jeep into the Glasgow airport terminal, is an engineer who was working toward a PhD in computational fluid dynamics. His passenger, Dr. Bilal Abdullah, is a diabetes specialist. Sabeel Ahmed, another man held in connection with this attack, is also a doctor. The combination of smarts and advanced education is, in fact, a trademark of international jihad. Mohammed Atta held a couple of degrees from universities in Cairo and Hamburg. Several among his band of hijackers also had at least some college education. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command, is a cerebral surgeon. Bin Laden is a civil engineer himself. Sheik Khalid Sheik Mohamed holds a degree in mechanical engineering degree from an American university. Ramzi Yousef, one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, excelled in math and science and holds an engineering degree from West Glamorgan Institute in Wales. In addition to his technical prowess, he is also fluent in English, Baluchi, Urdu and Arabic. We could go on and on. If truth be told, few other criminal enterprises can boast so many clever and university educated conspirators.
To make light of the threat posed by these determined fanatics - as some in Britain are now trying to do - is self-delusional at best and suicidal at worst. The mortal danger we face at their hands will not go away if we pretend it does not exist. It is like sticking one's head in the sand hoping that the jackal will not eat you. This, however, is a fatally misguided hope, since this enemy is too determined, too driven and too smart to let such an opportunity pass by.