Saturday, June 30, 2007

Return Of The Boogey Man

It now appears by all accounts that the two cars packed with gasoline, gas cylinders, and nails found and "defused" in London's Theater District were in fact intended as a terrorist attack. Thankfully, the "plot" failed. The incident is being played for all it's worth in the US news media and in ways all too familiar since 9/11. For example, an article in today's NY Times has the following headline: "London Finds Linked Bombs, a Qaeda Tactic".

Now, you'd expect to find some hard information linking al Qaeda to this plot in the early part of the article. Your expectations would, however, be dashed. You have to read down to the sixth paragraph (hardly the lede) to find even a mention of al Qaeda, and the connection is expressed thusly:

But the idea of a multiple attack using car bombs — a departure from the backpack suicide attacks of the London bombings of July 2005 — raised concerns among security experts that jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda may have imported tactics more familiar in Iraq. [Emphasis added]

Which security experts? Government officials? Academics? Halliburton employees? The sourcing is certainly vague.

The rest of the sentence isn't much clearer. In fact, it's so ambiguous as to be meaningless: "may" have imported tactics "more familiar in Iraq." That certainly doesn't add to the factual story, does it.

You then have to read another twenty or so paragraphs in the lengthy article to find the next mention of al Qaeda.

The presence of gas cylinders recalled a 2004 terrorist plot called the “Gas Limos Project,” in which Dhiren Barot, a British Muslim accused of being a leading Al Qaeda figure, had planned to use limousines packed with gas cylinders to blow up buildings. In a 39-page planning document, Mr. Barot, who was sentenced in November to a minimum of 40 years in prison, recommended the use of gas cylinders because they were highly destructive and easy to obtain. [Emphasis added]

Well, if Mr. Barot (who is only "accused" of being al Qaeda, apparently he's not admitted the affiliation) knew three years ago how destructive and how easy to obtain gas cylinders are, I suspect that lots of other people with all sorts of affiliations know the same thing.

And that justified a headline screaming "Qaeda" as the US heads into the Fourth of July holiday?

There is something seriously wrong with our press, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better any time soon.




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