July 1, 2007

al-Qaeda My Lai [Dan Collins]

Michael Yon has just posted a report of an entire farming village liquidated by al-Qaeda “fighters” in anticipation of the arrival of American forces. I think that it will be instructive to compare the number of column inches devoted to this with those devoted to Haditha.

Of course, they may just be voicing their frustration with the declining numbers of civilian deaths in June, the poor dears.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s top Catholic cleric is urging our British allies to invade his country and topple Mugabe before millions die from his enlightened policies. Perhaps American forces have better places to be redeployed than Okinawa? But leftists doubtless think the Godbotherers not worth the effort.

Cernig at Newshoggers is unimpressed with attempted atrocities in the UK, stating that what happened with the Glasgow vehicle was all that would have occurred had the London charges gone off–not a catastrophe–whilst blithely ignoring that cannisters were removed from the Jeep before they could go off. Clearly, he states, this is not al-Qaeda’s doing, and that may or may not be so, but it simply would not do to believe that their capacities may have been degraded this substantially by coalition intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, would it? And it’s not as though there are al-Qaeda trained sleeper agents being sent to Britain, is it?

Posted by Dan Collins @ 2:12pm

Comments (79)

  1. The question has to be WHY? WHY did Dick Cheney decide to kill all of an Iraqi village outside of Baquba?

    Do you know, heet?

  2. If only Bu$hitler and the Dark Lord had not stolen the elections from Gore and Kerry then AQ would still be a peaceful band of goat herders. And AQ was not in Iraq before we went there. And everyone knew there were no WMD’s.

  3. Regarding the London plot, whoever set up those vans was clearly an amateur. Without an oxidizing agent, it would have been a fireball instead of an explosion (there’s a big difference). The gasoline would have heated the propane until the pressure caused the propane canisters to rupture. The propane would have been dispersed and then ignited. It would have been dangerous and potentially lethal to those in the very immediate area, but no Oklahoma City type damage.

    Not to be taken lightly, of course. Amateurs can be deadly as long as they aren’t also complete dumbasses, which this lot apparently were. But if bad guys who know what they’re doing are planning something, this wasn’t it. Thank God that intelligence and willingness to blow oneself up tend to be inversely proportional.

  4. mike

    First, they weren’t vans, second they were packed with nails.

    Third, I think the most dangerous thing that has come out of this is the “ho hum, call us when something is really dangerous, you pantswetters” ‘tude. That’s the smarmy knowitall in the 2nd feature, drive-in grade sci fi flic telling everyone they are idiots just as the needletoothed alien comes up from behind and bites off his head.

  5. Thing is, Mike, this cell just learned some of the problems with their design.

  6. mike – I am sure that you base your assumptions on some foundation, but many experts (like the ones noted in the LJ thread) have arrived at significantly different conclusions.

    Regardless of the efficacy, or lack thereof, it shows their willingness and desire to cause harm to us silly little bedwetting infidels.

  7. “The gasoline would have heated the propane until the pressure caused the propane canisters to rupture. The propane would have been dispersed and then ignited.”

    What if the propane had went off first?

  8. Getting a propane fueled bomb to go off can be a bit tricky, for obvious reasons I won’t describe how to make them work, but if correctly set off they are effective. Sure, C4 or Semtex would be worse, but you can’t find a Semtex dealer on every street corner advertising prices per gallon with buy-6-get-1-free coupons.

  9. This whole “they weren’t very good”, “it wasn’t successful”, “it couldn’t have been too bad” meme is remarkable. There are likely any number of plots that were stopped prior to the actual attempts, thus making no immediate threat to life, but were no less dangerous or indicative of the threat we face. If the standard that has to be reached is 3000+ dead before we take the threat serious, than I am worried for all of us, especially when some do not even acknowledge we are at war, or think terrorism is a bumper sticker slogan.

  10. Well mike.Amatures indeed. I still wouldn’t want to be standing near it when the propane went off. Sending the glass, the doors,the hood, the trunk lid, and various other bits of SUV flying through the air. Remember. They make all the fuck ups they want. We can’t afford to make even one.

  11. This whole “they weren’t very good”, “it wasn’t successful”, “it couldn’t have been too bad” meme is remarkable.

    Indeed, it reminds me of the collective ‘ho-hum’ after the 1993 WTC bombing. The Islamic sociopaths managed to kill but six that day, but their objective – nearly attained, it sould be pointed out – was to kill tens of thousands. The time to sound the alarm was then, but our leader just hit SNOOZE and rolled over.

  12. The whole Left just hit SNOOZE and rolled over.

  13. The people that minimize these types of events are certainly going to be the first to call for Pres. Bush’s head, for the 635,483,917th time, should another one happen again within CONUS. They also refuse to acknowledge the many military and intelligence successes that we have had. But, should another one happen, they will unleash the hounds of hell on Bush, while simultaneously fighting him on each and every tactic employed to help secure our safety.

  14. Look, why get worried about this when it’s time to get your rage on join with all your like-minded, reasonable friends and go to LiveEarth? *THERE’S* the real problem, the coroporate greed of BigOil and the Bush administration. They’re the enemies of science, not Al-Qaeada!

    Of course, in order to do so, you need to ignore inconvienent truths like this:

    “El-Naggar even sees moral meaning in the earthquake that triggered the 2005 tsunami and washed away nearly a quarter of a million lives. Plate tectonics and global warming be damned: God had expressed his wrath over the sins of the West. Why, then, had God punished Southeast Asia rather than Los Angeles or the coast of Florida? His answer: Because the lands that were hit had tolerated the immoral behavior of tourists.”


    Good to know that we’ve nothing to fear from people who think like that.

  15. If the 9/11 terrorists had been caught before they flew, they would have been found to be unarmed (just carrying harmless little boxcutters, for crap’s sake!) and in with a foolish unworkable plan. Hijack four airliners with boxcutters? They would have been considered clearly delusional amateurs, and it would have been considered laughable (by the likes of Keith Olbermann and his band of idiots) to think that they could do more than just maybe cut a few people on board. Olbermann would ridicule the Bush administration for trying to deflect attention from the “stolen” election, by accusing our friendly Muslim brethren of Flying While Arab.

    Every time one of those bizarre, unexplained odor clouds happens in NY or NJ, and it’s reported in the news, I believe that it is another dry run for the dispersal of something really nasty one of these days. The terrorists are here, are watching the dispersal pattern, just like Chemical Ali at Halabja, and are testing our reactions to these incidents, so they can know what to expect and work around it.

  16. Mike —

    Thing is, when you have a propane vapor-air mixture, “just burning” can be in the mode of a fuel-air explosive. That’s what an FAE is, after all — a dispersed burnable mixed with air, then ignited. So there’s quite the potential for a big second explosion following the explosion of the tanks. It’s tricky to get the mixture right, but the potential for a large blast definitely was there.

  17. In order to show his steely nerve in the face of this nonexistent worldwide yuppie terrorism threat, Larry O’Rosie Wilson Johnson has just volunteered to aimlessly wander the streets of London in an alcoholic fog to demonstrate how safe we all are.

    Heard to mutter under under his breath, “I’ll ssshhooww the bastids, I was important once, I seen Valerie Plame nekkid, sshhh!! don’t tell Joe, but it was hot,” it was once again clear that Keith Olberdouche can only attract D list guests not even suitable for Jerry Springer.

  18. I’m surprised I haven’t heard more talk about BLEVE’s this weekend.

    I’m not an expert, but wouldn’t a flame impinging on a propane gas cylinder cause the liquid to boil? I believe the results from even a BBQ grill cylinder can be catastrophic.

    Since I haven’t heard the term, perhaps I’m mistaken.

  19. There would have been a pretty hefty deflagration if the cars had gone off, but there was no real containment of the blast, thus there probably would not have been too much shrapnel damage, if any at all. You’d need a high explosive like TATP, or Urea Nitrate, to get the blast/shrapnel damage. Granted the fuel explosion would have hurt and probably killed enough to make the difference in their choice of explosive unimportant in the terror inducing department. I can’t really comment with any authority if they were amateurs or not, and I seriously doubt any talking head can either. When it comes down to it, if they had gone off and hurt people, their desire to terrorize would have been fulfilled, regardless of the blast radius. Just my two cents, as a Bomb Tech.

  20. A neighbor of a friend of mine had a catastrophic accident with a propane gas grill last week–the fireball melted the vinyl siding off his house. A bunch of propane cylinders all going off at once in a crowded concourse, . . . definitely a bad thing.

    Yes, JP, I believe you are right in that a BLEVE may have been intended.

  21. I suspect the intent was to blow the propane, the gas was for exta boom. Don’t think propane exploding is too bad? Go here and click on the link “Video Al Qaeda Lesson in Bomb Making” – or this video on YouTube – there are tons of them – 5 of those going off at one, with 30 gallons of gas, would make a big boom. Not as “good” as artillery shells taped together, but they are working with what they can get.

  22. Question
    What is the difference between an amateur and a professional terrorist?
    What is the difference between a car bomb and a bullet?

    Nothing, they all come to the same finality -death

    Comment by JD on 7/1 @ 4:25 pm

    Quote “everyone knew there were no WMD’s.”


    The foregoing is the exact same logic that the bias liberal media, and the left wing in congress apply to Iraq and its former leader.
    “JD” did you forget that “All” criminal acts have consequences,
    “JD” time and the absence of Iraq’s WMD does NOT excuse the crime,
    and what are the crimes ?

    IRAQ’S 1987-1988-1991-1993 VIOLATIONS

    1. Geneva Protocol for the Universal Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare

    2. Geneva Protocol Universal Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin weapons and on Their Destruction,

    3. United Nations Universal Prohibition of Chemical & Biological Weapons and of universal adherence thereto, Iraq signed as a member state the objective of universal elimination of chemical and biological weapons, Geneva 17 June 1925,

    4. Hague convention universal prohibition of Chemical & Biological weapons, universal elimination of production, stockpiling and universal adherence thereto,

    RESOLUTION 687 through 1441

    Iraq’s use of weapons of mass destruction in violation of its obligations under the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925, and of its prior use of chemical weapons and affirming that grave consequences would follow any further use by Iraq of such weapons,

    Recalling that Iraq has subscribed to the Declaration adopted by all States participating in the Conference of States Parties to the 1925 Geneva Protocol and Other Interested States, held in Paris from 7 to 11 January 1989, establishing the objective of universal elimination of chemical and biological weapons,

    Recalling also that Iraq has signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin weapons and on Their Destruction, of 10 April 1972,


    Sarin gas
    Tabun gas
    VX gas
    Cyanide crystals
    Mustard gas

    Saddam Hussien, ordered his Republican guard to mix chemical nerve agents Sarin, Tabun, VX, Cyanide and Mustard gas in 50 gallon drums, it is reported that the individuals who mixed these weapons all died from exposure, it also has been reported that no state or country has ever engaged in mixing any nerve agents together.

    By the way the foregoing Iraqi chemical weapons all are defined as Weapons of Mass Destruction “WMD” by the United Nations, see UNSCUM 1990-2002 report on Iraq’s chemical/biological weapons

    1987 :

    The civilian populations in the Kurdish village of Halabja, attacked by Iraqi planes that dropped 50-gallon drums of the toxic chemical cocktails 180,000 died in the first attack. Men, woman children dog’s cat’s bird’s insects every living thing died. Today over 20 years later plants still can not be grown in the toxic soil. Thousands still suffer from the severe effects, female survivors exposed to the multiple chemical agents have children with horrific birth defects. 50, 000 residents living 30 to 40 miles outside of Halabja died from the toxic wind, 24 villages in Kurdish area were contaminated and still are to this day.

    1988 :

    100,000 Iranian soldiers were victims of Iraq’s chemical attacks. The official estimate does not include the civilian population contaminated in bordering towns, the children and relatives of veterans, many of whom have developed blood, lung and skin complications, Nerve gas agents killed about 20,000 Iranian soldiers immediately, within hours 70,000 more died according to official reports. 5,000 victims suffering long-term illness need permanent medical treatment and are hospitalized with severe, chronic untreatable conditions. Iraq targeted Iranian civilians with chemical “WMD” weapons, thousands of children were killed in villages and towns, as well as front-line hospitals and emergency services 90% of these victims died in less than one day. Every human, every animal, every plant, every living thing dies

    1991 :
    General Wafiq Al Samarae, the former director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, admitted in his book Eastern Gate Ruins that Saddam’s regime used light chemical weapons against Iraqi people in the cities of Najaf and Karbala to crush the popular uprising of March 1991 which followed the defeat of Saddam after his invasion of Kuwait.

    1993 :
    After the crushing of the uprising, large number of people took sanctuary in the Marshes of Southern Iraq. In 1993 Saddam used chemical weapons against those hiding there in order to crush resistance.

    What if Saddam used the same weapons against U.S. and coalition forces?
    Be thankful he did not kill 100,000 American troops.
    The media and like minded “JD” has been manipulating and omitting and corrupting the facts of this war against your own people and government.


    This does not, cannot and will not excuse Saddam’s intentional illegal use of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s WMD violations of the Geneva convention, Hague convention and the United Nations Security counsels resolutions. Time and the absence of Iraq’s WMD will not and does not excuse or circumvent Iraq’s crimes against humanity. If no WMD is found in Iraq,
    AFTER THE FACT, as Iraq did in fact USE and deploy WMD in 1987-1988-1991-1993.

    America as the only superpower of the United Nations Security counsel we are obligated to lead the enforcement of the U.N. Security counsels resolutions, anything less would allow Tyrant world leaders to run wild. The Geneva convention, Hague convention and the United Nations Security counsels resolutions must be enforced. Calling the Iraq war illegal or claiming the war was wrong, is supporting the use of chemical and biological weapons The United States is enforcing a world wide ban and universal prohibition against WMD, and the includes prior and past deployment, use and possession the crime is not excused by time or the absence of the WMD.


  23. I could be wrong, but I think JD was being ironic. Anyway, thw whole “terrorist” thing was hatched by Bush to sell bumperstickers.

  24. On Drudge a link to a story on ABC that gubmint says threat/intel/chatter as high as before 9/11. They promised a campaign this summer. I think they mean it. As they say, we have to be perfect, they only have to get lucky once.

    EOD8 – Initial success or total failure!

  25. Injustice, JD was being sarcastic. Your cut and paste is wasted.

  26. injustice prevails – I thought I was fairly clear that I was typing a mocking portrayal of the likes that minimize the dangers and risks associated with these crazies.

  27. Personally I think they succeeded in their aim, which was to get people looking over their shoulders. The average layperson, (as evidenced by the many boards I’ve been reading), don’t know the difference between deflagration and detonation anyway. To most people, an explosion is an explosion. Hell look at all the press coverage they got with these incidents, and their devices were easily,(and cheaply), made. They could have mixed up some TATP, or HMTD, and I doubt the press coverage would have been any more than we’ve seen.

  28. The 7/7 bombers did mother of Satan – and so did the 7/21 guys – one set worked, one didn’t. Probably MI5 and Scotland Yard are watching large purchases of peroxide, etc, propane tanks are easier to get, though evidently not as easy to rig.

    These will not be the only attacks this summer. This is just the beginning.

  29. Heck if they know a beautician, and have a hardware/health food store nearby, they are home free. (I do see your point though).

  30. EOD8 —

    Well, yeah, they did get everybody’s attention. It’s not clear yet whether they made things worse or better for themselves and their cohorts. The Media in Britain seem to be taking this a little more seriously than has been the rule in the past. Have the Brits reached the moment where there are things up with which they will not put?

    I don’t know what your training is; BLEVEs around here are more the province of fire departments than of explosive experts. For those who aren’t clear about it, this is the way it was supposed to work. (Note: I’m telling no secrets. The information is readily available in all kinds of places.)

    The purpose of the gasoline was to heat the propane tanks. As they were heated, the pressure in them would have become higher and higher. Propane is a liquid at only a little below room temperature, so propane tanks are not particularly strong; when they get hot and the pressure rises they will burst. At that point the physics depends on the characteristics of propane.

    Propane has a range of mixtures that are flammable. If the mist is too dense — not enough air — it won’t burn; if it’s too thin it won’t burn, either. When propane tanks explode they produce a mist that is ‘way too dense to burn, but it’s hot and expands rapidly, especially if there is still a heat source driving it to boil off the liquid. As it does so it entrains the surrounding air, getting closer and closer to the proper mixture.

    When propane tanks fail “naturally”, that is, accidentally, quite often there is no ignition source present, and the gas continues to dissipate until the mixture is no longer rich enough to burn. (Fire departments respond by mist-flooding the area to cool any ignition sources.) In this case, though, the burning gasoline and hot metal would still have been present, and when the expanding cloud of propane got to the point where it would burn, BLAM. Almost as bad, from a damage point of view, is when the gas cloud is ignited after the explosion point but before it goes below the flash point. This doesn’t produce an overpressure-explosion; what it does is to make the air burn over a huge area, and if there are people who have inhaled it, too bad, plus it will set anything flammable on fire. The actual FAE explosion, given what looks like about twenty gallons of propane, would be around 50-200 feet in diameter, and would have generated enough overpressure to drive shrapnel at high speed. If it wasn’t ignited at the explosion point, the flaming air would have ignited wood and other cars and burned the lungs of hundreds of people in the vicinity.

    Fortunately for us, it isn’t easy to set up the proper conditions for a BLEVE. That part I won’t discuss in public.

    What’s really interesting is the tactics. Two car bombs, fairly close to one another. One goes off; fire and police respond, and people come to gawk — then the second one blows, taking many more victims down. That would have caused a country-wide call-in for emergency responders, and it would have been “logical” to call them from fairly far away on the assumption that anything else would have been nearby. Scotland, for instance — it isn’t all that far away. And that would have left Glasgow short of EMTs and firemen when the airport bomb went off. Cute.


  31. In my opinion, invading Zimbabwe and toppling Mugabe would be one of the worst things we could do for that country. It would just delay their learning from their mistakes, ultimately causing more people to die because they’d never get to truly feel the effects of his policies at work in their final stage.

  32. Michael Yon’s piece was compelling, as usual. But is there any definitive proof that it was Al Quaeda, and not some militia, that committed the atrocity? This “Al Quaeda” is becoming a very vague and convenient trope in the war of wills.

  33. OK, I detract. He says he has witnesses.

  34. cynn –

    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

  35. Clearly, if I can believe this report, we need to annihilate Al Quaeda in all its malignant forms, regardless of political sensibilty. We can kick rethug butts later.

  36. blaster, you need to unclick the “moron” button.

  37. Thank you, Ric. Excellent comment indeed.

  38. cynn – have unclicked, we’ll see from your posts whether it works.

    But anyway, are these guys “amateurs” – well, yes. AQ – I know, a convenient trope, but dangerous nonetheless – sends in pros to help out the local yokels, they like to see some effort/commitment from the locals first.

    The tube bombers got some outside help – and got a big batch of TATP. A Palestinian favorite, but AQ promotes it in their terror manuals. Part of the reason for so many “work accidents” among Palestinians – they don’t call it Mother of Satan for nothing.

    This is, I think, the beginning of what I call an “Israel level of violence” – I don’t think they are going for the spectacular event. I think they are going for lots of little ones.

    I am not sure how we will react to that.

  39. blaster – as evidenced by the reactions to the most recent bombings, and the foiled plot at the military based in Jersey, I fear that we will not react well, or rather the media and the party running the House and the Senate will not react well. Terrorism is a bumper sticker slogan after all. Reid believes the surge failed before it ever went into effect and we lost the war. Murtha has been showing his ass for years now. If it takes 3000+ to get their attention again, it will be horrific for everyone.

  40. Have the Brits reached the moment where there are things up with which they will not put?

    I have to admit this made me laugh out loud. Thanks again, Ric.

    “Al-Qaida” (القائدة, al-qā’idah, the base or foundation) is a tricky nomenclature. I would say it is used for what I would rather call “world-wide Islamist terrorist networks”. There is no one Islamist terrorist network: they are a loose confederation of networks (some based on nation, some trans-national), comprising literally hundreds of groups that are linked at various levels. The involvement of governments and militaries cannot be ignored (some, such as Russia and China, are even non-Muslim). On a technical level, not all ascriptions to “al-Qā’idah” are accurate as some efforts are done independently by certain groups.

    Although it is far more convenient and useful to clump them all together under one term, doing so detracts from the true nature of what we are dealing with. Having said that, it is — and will always be — extremely difficult to ascertain what is and is not under the purview, instruction, and support of the official group that calls itself al-Qā’idah.

    Consider it a web rather than a chain.

  41. I don’t think the US public reaction is predictable on this. Not surprising that there is not a call to arms after some failed plots. The question is what happens when they succeed. And this is strictly a numbers game – if they keep trying, they will eventually succeed. If they don’t go for the “spectaculars,” but rather for 2 or 10 or 20 people a week, every week, and they succeed at some percentage of those?

    I suspect we will be somewhat less forbearing than the Israelis.

  42. I agree, blaster. The public is more likely to have a harsher reaction than those in Congress, or the MSM. God forbid that something happen at all, regardless of who is running the show, but I hope that if the Dems are in charge, that they allow the adults to be in charge.

  43. I suspect we will be somewhat less forbearing than the Israelis.

    Perhaps because they need to be more patient than we do, considering how they live right next door to millions and millions of people who wish nothing more than to drive them en masse into the Sea, we can certainly get away with it.

    When we are under attack, there is a certain unity that silences idiotic dissent. While some among us would be content to sit and be shot at, most of us would pick up arms and shoot our enemies until they are killed and those around them have wet their robes. Consider, for example, the astronomical spike in recruitment by the armed services (including the various intelligence services) after September 11, 2001.

    IOW: I think you’re right.

  44. The new Prime Minister Brown is just getting a welcome gift from these yahoos. These attacks were for that reason, which is why they were so poorly executed. Blair didn’t give them a whole lot of time to work out their plans, though they vaguuely knew the transition was coming up. What they were hoping for was a bomb going off followed by massive displeasure with forces in Iraq and then a withdrawal from Iraq of British forces (as happened with Spanish and Japanese troops.) Since these attacks were unsuccessful, this won’t happen (and I’m not sure it would have anyway.)

    I sure hope this isn’t part of a long campaign in Britain, but those terrorist assholes tend to disappoint.

  45. Not sure that I get the ABC story that the government is saying that chatter is high etc – in the summer of 2001, the bad guys weren’t saying publicly “we plan to launch a terror campaign on the US and UK this summer.” Not a secret, they are making plain their intentions.

  46. We were talking about a similar topic at a dinner party tonight. I was one of the few conservative people present, which was not the least bit uncomfortable since my better half makes me seem like Kucinich. It was fairly apparent that assigning blame for the actions, and the inevitable less than perfect response to tragedies and disasters like 9/11 and Katrina. I pray that they are not representative, but I suspect that the politico response would be centered around blame and forming the next investigative commission.

    If you just look at the intelligence reports or NIE that discussed how AQ wanted to attack in the US and could use planes, and how that vague and unactionable information has become a mantra for many, it seems abundantly clear that there will always be a significant portion of the population that will look for blame internally, rather than from the responsible party.

  47. Muslihoon,

    It’s been clear for a long time, at least to me, that “al-Qaida” was less a concrete thing or organization than an advertising slogan. Correct me if I’m wrong, because I don’t recall exactly, but isn’t there a different word in Arabic for “base” in the sense of “base of operations” or “military base”? “al-qā’idah” looks to me like a compound that would mean something more like “fundamental basis” or “support” or (as you have it above) “foundation” — or the Christian name “Peter” as Catholics understand it (the rock upon which the Church is founded).

    If that’s the case, for Arabic speakers it ought to have mystic connotations, should induce a feeling compounded of remoteness and inviolability coupled with a solidity that exists only in the Faith. I note that the Stone of Makkah has what looks like a related name, the Qa’abah (spelling?). Islam comes from God, but in the World it rests on the Stone.

    Of course, for us infidels it’s just a handy name, a tag to hang on the forces arrayed against us. We need that because of the way English works, but we need to be careful. It doesn’t really name anything concrete, or even a construct like “General Motors”.

    Which, in the end, is why it isn’t important and might be counterproductive to “get” Osama. Blowing away the man who stands on the foundation is pointless so long as the foundation remains — another can stand there as well. Better to show that it’s built on sand, to tilt and crack when the wind blows strong.


  48. Quite correct, Ric. In Urdu, the same word is used to refer to what in English would be called a “reading primer” for kids – the basis or foundation of reading, introducing the letters, how they are formed, what words begin with said letter, et cetera. (I was a little puzzled around September 11, 2001: why would a reading primer attack The United States? But the Arabic means something different indeed.)

    And, indeed, the word is used to invoke an aura of inviolability, distance, remoteness, and solidity.

  49. I actually think that one of the reasons that we have not been hit here is that the terrorists realize that another attack on our homeland will likely galvanize the populace. As is right now, with the attacks being “over there” and the physical threat seems so much more remote, it is easier to worry about blame, would have, could have, etc … If this threat becomes more real (I believe it currently is real but many do not), maybe people will begin to recognize the existing danger.

  50. So if al-qa’abah is the Black Stone, a physical stone upon which only one man might stand and which could conceivably be destroyed, then al-qa’idah is the Invisible Stone, upon which as many might stand as wish, and which cannot be destroyed because its existence is mystical, not physical.

    Brilliant. And hard to combat, which is of course the purpose.


  51. Rick – The Arabic language is quite beautiful and poetic in that way. With the various measures in the language having different meaning originating from the root verb, the flowery and poetic aspects of the language are complex and fascinating to learn.

  52. JD — yes, I’m beginning to see that. *sigh* I guess I’m going to have to buckle down and learn to read the script.

    On the other hand, all languages have their poetic aspects. English is rich in metaphor and allusion because we have words from many different languages with the same denotation but radically different (in some cases) connotations.

    On the gripping hand, shooting people in the head is shooting people in the head, even if the ammunition is flawless diamonds. Just ’cause it’s purty don’t make it good.


  53. The thing that pisses me off about the merry band of ostriches chanting that this was no big deal and that the bombs wouldn’t have killed or maimed very many people anyway is that these bastards, amateurs though they may have been, sure as hell intended to kill a whole bunch of innocent people, now didn’t they?

    I guess that’s no big deal, though. Certainly nothing to get upset about.

  54. Don’t spit tooo much of your drink out laughing at Larry Johnson’s humiliating attempt at resurrecting any non-existentshred of credibility in a bizarre attempt by now giving credit to Bush and Blair for having won the war on terror by reducing Al Qeada to iletducated doctors who are just no where near their old days of successful operations (see, under this NEW concoction Larry was technically right on Olby) but Bush and Blair are lying and hyping the incompetent “Yuppie Terror” to march on with their phony war on terror. Get it?

    Of course, you have to completely forget the NYTimes op-ed in which writer said there is no terror threat and probably 3,782,457 mentions on Larry’s blog archives of the phony terror war and like Larry has now admitted there was a terror threat I guess sometime between July and September 10th 2001.

    and the “nappy” reference in the last paragraph, it’s just so…so…so…tacky Larry, as usual.

  55. Thanks Ric. We’ve done some goofing around with propane tanks out on the range, but only one at a time, and not a half dozen or more. I’ve got the HazMat training, and HDS training, (as well as a dozen ancillary schools or so) but since I am not a PSO, I’ve have little in the way of fire training. I figured they were working on a Fuel Air type explosion, with the addition of the nails being some wishful thinking on their part. Most of the devices I’ve seen that included the use of propane tanks was the old IRA/Shining Path idea of filling em with black powder, and using them like big mortar rounds by shooting them out of a big steel tube.

  56. The best part of Larry’s post, Topsecretk9, has to be the comments. The third commenter accuses the NYT of being “in competition with FOX etc for Rush Limbaugh’s audience,” while the commenter after that (along with several others) not only Questions The Timing™ but also raises the possibility that the attacks were “staged” by “the Powers That Be.”

    Methinks Larry draws a lot of his readership from the same pool as Art Bell.

  57. Hell, the Viet Cong themselves committed dozens of My Lais… Phu Long, Binh Gia, and An Lao, to name a few. To say nothing of the well-documented genocide they carried out in Saigon after the American troops left.

    In the end it’s the media that chooses who commits the atrocities and who wins the wars.

  58. Al Qaeda is a real thing, and it is the name that bin Laden gave to his organization.

    It has established brand identity for Islamic terrorism. Disparate groups have attached themselves to the brand to give themselves instant cachet and to bloster their efforts. For example, al Qaeda in Iraq wasn’t all sent out from corporate HQ – there is seed money and key leadership sent in to work with the locals.

    Saying al Qaeda doesn’t exist doesn’t make you sophisticated or nuanced.

  59. Saying al Qaeda doesn’t exist doesn’t make you sophisticated or nuanced.

    You forgot to add “between the sheets.”

    And why won’t heet answer my question?

  60. Anyone ever seen an LP tank go boom? Pretty f’n terrorizing. Go find a volunteer firefighter and ask him what a mess a couple of them in a whole pile of gasoline would be.

  61. Maybe the best definition is that a bomb is “poorly built and ineffective” when it kills people other than you. ;-)

    The fact that they tried it at all is most disturbing to me.

  62. EOD8, a BLEVE is a Fuel-Air Explosion. The phenomenon was the inspiration for creating deliberate ones, and FAE research was what elucidated the mechanism — which was very poorly understood as recently as twenty years ago — and created the acronym. From the point of view of defusing one, it’s the same timers and detonators you learned about; the only new thing is that if they ask you to do it, you also need to find some firefighters, preferably with fog nozzles. Saturating the area with water fog entrains the propane, cools ignition sources, and minimizes the amount of air in the vicinity, and can prevent it from happening even if it’s booby trapped or you fail to get there in time to remove the detonator. Ask the Navy. Civilian fire departments only rarely learn fogging techniques or even have anything but stream nozzles, which can help but are much less effective, not to mention being highly distracting to the guy trying to work in the middle of the stream of water.

    Blaster, I didn’t say al-Qa’ida doesn’t exist. I said it doesn’t have physical existence — it is, as you say, a brand or slogan, and one whose originators positively encourage others to adopt. What I was pointing out was that it’s a brilliantly conceived brand that resonates on several levels with Muslims, especially native Arabic speakers. That makes our job harder; you can’t “defeat” a philosophical concept — all you can do is discredit it. You could nuke the Vatican and every Roman Catholic worship facility in the world, and the Church would remain because the Church is the community of believers; the bricks and mortar are just things the Church has built. (Note: the same is true of Islam. I see occasional calls for destroying Makkah. That would be not only useless but massively counterproductive.)

    There is even a sense in which it’s a hopeful sign for us. If we can discredit the paradigm as an excuse for physically attacking the West, it resonates so strongly that it will remain in the hearts and minds of Muslims and will be used for something. Theoretically, the Muslim faith was “frozen” a long time ago. What the Islamists are telling the Faithful is that that freeze wasn’t effective, that corruption has set in in the intervening time, and that they need to get back to the Correct Forms. Osama’s slogan was intended to inspire that effort, and does, but it’s new, not part of the original system. If it turns out that the tactics informed by the new Basic Paradigm don’t work, there is the possibility that something we can live with could get built on it.

    Unfortunately, the only way to do that is for us to stifle their efforts at every turn until they give up on it. That’s a large-budget effort with a very long time frame and an extremely boring PERT chart; there aren’t any critical points on it, only a long, horizontal critical path.


  63. OT-


  64. Buenos Dias, Prime Minister Brown. Al Qaeda thinks you’re Spanish.

  65. Dan…

    I think Cindy Sheehan calls them “freedom fighters” and code pink sees them as waging war against their oppressors. This also a holy war which justifies all manner of means to the end.
    These are “cleansings”, not massacres.

    Please take a few minutes to brush up on your nuance

  66. Sorry, Steve. I’ll work on it. But as the Zimbabwean archbishop points out, though war may be hell, there are worse things than war.

  67. I knew what a BLEVE was, but thanks for the info anyway Ric. Heh heh. As far as “working” on them, it won’t happen unless there is some innocent putz handcuffed to em. You can’t shoot the power supply with a disrupter, since the shot will probably send the whole thing up. We’d just clear everyone out of the area, and probably counter charge it at our leisure, while having a fire truck doing some long range hosing. Insurance can always pay for the damaged property. I do kind of wonder if hosing it with liquid nitrogen would be a option. The nitrogen would probably displace most of the O2 in the area for a short period of time, and if there was no oxidizer present, you’d just get a big gas leak when the nitrogen weakened the tanks. Food for thought anyway, since we are always looking for new stuff to try. :}

  68. If the standard that has to be reached is 3000+ dead before we take the threat serious, than I am worried for all of us,

    No, you can lower that bar if the perp is a white Christian male. Certainly then, Marshall law must be instated.

  69. Sorry, EOD8, I do tend to get pedantic, as the posters here will tell you.

    My direct experience was limited and is now thirty years old, so it considerably predates the era in which LN2 became cheaper than beer. That might well be an option. The chill would tend to condense the flammable gas, and it would displace the oxygen as you say. Finding a good way to dispense it is the problem. Cryogens are hard to handle, and the resulting device would probably be expensive and therefore less likely to be available when needed. But it’s a concept well worth playing with.


  70. Cryogens ARE hard to handle. Just ask Bill Clinton.

  71. Comment by injustice prevails on 7/1 @ 6:53 pm #

    There isn’t much evidence for Iraqi Chemical Weapon attacks during or after Gulf I. Seems like the UN and the inspectors were doing a good job! 15 years and no re-constitution of any WMD program. Till Cheney’s boys filched some letterhead and made some stupid stuff up and got the gullible MSM to believe it.

    from Human Rights Watch

    “In November 1993, UNSCOM experts visited Iran and Iraq to investigate allegations that Iraqi forces had used chemical weapons in attacks …and then inspected the site of the alleged chemical attacks in the al-Hammar marshes, taking soil, water, flora and fauna samples for analysis. The UNSCOM team found no evidence to support the allegations.”

    “They do not rule out the possibility that Iraq could have used phosphene gas which would not have been detectable after the attack.”

  72. That is so not me at #16. I don’t know anything about blowing stuff up. Just that you shouldn’t do it while there’s people around.

  73. Ric – thing is, al Qaeda DOES have a physical existence. It isn’t something made up by the West as a convenient catch all, and it isn’t something mystical.

    True enough it is difficult to defeat ideologies, the good news is that we need not defeat Islam itself, we just need to divorce it from state power. Because if you look at the 20th century, the issue wasn’t Naziism or Fascism or Communism themselves (all sort of brand names, too), but the fact that those radical ideas were married to state power (for those who want to go back to the moral equivalence of bad acts by Muslims and bad acts by Christians, the problem areas are those where Christianity is married to state power.)

    The CIA’s problem (well, really the whole intelligence community, including the military intel community) is that they think AQ is something new and unique, that they are non-state actors, and thus the rules for how to deal with them don’t apply.

    But we’ve always had to deal with “transnational” terrorists – that’s what we used to call them, now they are “non-state actors.” BS – there is ALWAYS a state involved – perhaps more than one, but there are a number of things only states can do, providing diplomatic cover, for example.

    This is why AQ is a physical thing – states cannot support wisps and spirits. They support persons, and groups.

  74. Hey Ric, Liquid Nitrogen would be available in large quantities at any airbase, since they use it to fill the nitrogen tanks that they service the aircraft wheels with. Just need a cryo tech with big gloves and a suit on to spray it. It should effect the actual circuits of any device as well, since extreme cold will slow things down a bit.

    P.S. I’ll leave you with a saying I heard somewhere, “never argue nomenclature with a pedant. You’ll just embarrass yourself, and annoy the pedant.”.

  75. I believe a lotg of people are missing an important point in Islamist terrorist thinking. They don’t have to kill or injure a lot of people in these blasts, they only have to scare enough people that they refrain from certain activities they would normally do. How many more people will stay away from commercial flying now that Glasgow has followed up 9/11? If enough people refrain from flying, you will send airline stocks and plane makers stocks into the tank, resulting in corporate bankruptcies. It did happen. I wouldn’t be suprised if the terrorists take on big sports venues at some point. Who wants to see an Indy 500 race if the terrorists sneak in(or steal from a reserve barracks) ten morters and using GPS info and tactics practiced in Iraq against our FOB sites, lob some rounds into the stands from two miles away? If that happens, there might only be 70 fatalities, but you could kiss racing, or football, or baseball, goodby.
    I’ve often thought that the 1993 WTC bombing was by amatuers, and somebody, such as a structurial engineer or architect (and they have those), observing from the Mikddle East said “What amatuers!”, and send a message or memo to Bin Laden and wrote “if you want to kill a lot of people at the WTC, then go at it this way …”, and laid out the plan that was used.
    The real questions are how many sectors of a modern economy they will go after, and how will they damage each targeted sector. Fear does work.

  76. Jim – Being an Indianapolis resident, that is a fairly common concern here, as we regularly host not only the Indy 500, Brickyard, and Formula One races, but also, NFL (Super Bowl Champion Colts!), NBA, Final Fours, international track and field, etc …

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