Profile terrorists, not grandmas

Thursday’s foiled terrorist plot to smuggle liquid-based bombs on board nearly a dozen transoceanic commercial airliners flying to and from the U.S. and Britain caused near-panic and gridlock in airport terminals in both nations. Government and airline officials scrambled to stop passengers from boarding with mundane items such as toothpaste, suntan lotion and sodas.

The disruption, frustration, delays and inconvenience will continue for an unknown period because airports lack technology to sniff out the separate ingredients that, when combined, create a lethal bomb. The arrests made thus far by British authorities may not have captured all the plotters, so there is still reason to fear some will succeed in exploding an airliner packed with hundreds of innocents.

Much more may be said of these matters, but for now we offer two observations: First, thanks and praise for the British investigators who, with help from U.S. officials, spied out the plot and then carried off a well-coordinated series of arrests. A key to their ability to crack the conspiracy was the ability to sneak and peek — that is, to enter suspected plotters’ homes covertly to gather information. U.S. law enforcement officials are not permitted to carry out such operations, except as provided under Section 213 of the Patriot Act. The ACLU is doing everything in its power to hamper or otherwise force repeal of part or all of that law.

Second, scan the many news photos of the long lines of frustrated travelers yesterday. It’s impossible to miss how few match the typical terrorist profile: natives of or descended from families that came from or still live in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or another Middle Eastern, Asian or African nation with a Muslim majority or significant Muslim minority.

We recognize the vast majority of Muslims do not share the jihadist obsession with killing Americans, Brits and other Westerners. But there’s one undeniable fact about the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, the Sept. 11 murderers, the Madrid bombers, the London subway bombers and the present liquid bomb plotters: All clearly are identifiable as being of Muslim background. We’ve yet to see bombers who look even remotely like a gray-haired governess from Southampton, a harried middle-aged U.S. sales executive from Los Angeles or a haggard dad and mom with kids in tow returning home to Atlanta.

There is no room left for the blind, politically correct transportation security procedures that ignore this reality. Our enemy nearly always is a young or middle-aged man from a Muslim nation or culture. If preventing another Sept. 11 means delaying all travelers from such nations, well, then so be it. Maybe the resulting inconvenience and discomfort will help induce officials back home to get serious about helping the U.S. and Britain stop terrorists from succeeding in their deadly aims.

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read