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EDITORIAL: TSA is a joke to al Qaeda, too

Groping nuns, kids and seniors won’t thwart terrorists

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While the Transportation Security Administration is groping for an answer to air safety, al Qaeda is laughing. This week, the terror group publicly detailed its plans to circumvent the latest government security measures and bleed America to death.

The new edition of al Qaeda's glossy magazine, Inspire, discusses last month's plot to down cargo planes with bombs hidden in printer ink cartridges, and a successful Sept. 3 UPS aircraft bombing in Dubai. These new techniques were born after underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to detonate his explosive on Northwest flight 253 last Christmas. Since then, the terrorists say they "have been experimenting with ways to bring down airplanes. ... We looked into X-ray scanners, full-body scanners, sniffing dogs and other aspects of security."

The magazine includes technical details of how to construct weapons that will avoid X-ray and chemical sniffer detection, enabling other jihadist groups to try them out. An al Qaeda press release stated, "It is our plan to disseminate the idea to the mujahidin worldwide and to expand its deployment onto both civilian aircraft in the West as well as cargo aircraft."

"Operation Hemorrhage" - al Qaeda's name for the ink-cartridge attacks - cost only $4,200, which they claim "will without a doubt cost America and other Western countries billions of dollars in new security measures. That is what we call leverage." The fact that the attacks failed is irrelevant; the underwear bomber didn't detonate his bomb but the Obama administration went off the deep end in response. It is "such a good bargain," al Qaeda explains, "for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks."

Al Qaeda has correctly diagnosed that the most effective terror attacks are not "spectaculars" like Sept. 11, 2001, but numerous small-scale strikes that prompt the government to overreact. "To bring down America we do not need to strike big," they reason. "In such an environment of security phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch and thus we may circumvent the security barriers America worked so hard to erect." They call this "the strategy of a thousand cuts. The aim is to bleed the enemy to death." The new strategy may show the influence of al Qaeda operations commander Saif al Adel, who until recently had safe haven in Iran, and who has long challenged al Qaeda's orthodoxy favoring "big bang" attacks.

The terrorists feel confident enough in their position to taunt the United States. The ink-cartridge bombs were mailed to synagogues in Chicago, which they call "Obama's city." The names on the packages were based on famous historical enemies of Islam, and one of them contained a copy of the novel "Great Expectations" because they were "very optimistic about the outcome of this operation." Responding to a British government restriction on toner cartridges weighing over 500 grams (only 17.6 ounces), the jihadists asked "Who is the genius who came up with this suggestion? Do you think that we have nothing to send but printers?"

So while the government is overreacting by instituting costly and humiliating full body-checks at airports, al Qaeda chalks up a victory and moves on to other forms of attack. The terrorists say the Western world has two choices: "You either spend billions of dollars to inspect each and every package in the world or you do nothing and we keep trying again." Something to think about the next time a TSA employee is inspecting your package.

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