The Washington Times - August 8, 2008, 10:41PM

By Jeffrey Denning


So far the airspace in China is safe and secure as the Beijing Olympics Games begin. Despite the email threats made to to bomb or crash aircraft during the Olympic Games, according to Air China airlines officials, so far so good. No major explosions or incidents at the time of this writing, thankfully.

From a security analyst point of view, those who threaten to do harm vary on different levels of danger. Each threat should be taken seriously, of course, but such threats range from silly to to wacko to down-right dangerous. Nevertheless, those who telegraph their intent to do harm are often not as dedicated to follow-through as those who remain anonymous.

Moreover, the motivation of the most reckless, dangerous and devious criminals, assassins and terrorists could hold ulterior motives for issuing such threats. It would range from a ruse or distraction (or a diversion in preparation for a greater attack), or simply a goal to create a general feeling of fear among the people (terrorism at its core).

Nevertheless, the enormous international publicity and massive human gathering for the Olympic Games create the ideal time to attack. Hundreds if not thousands of lone-wolves, as well as those dedicated groups of thugs and villains, salivate at the thought of making their mark during this historic period.

Pictures of the hooded Black September terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games come to mind. The Palestinian terrorist group killed Israelis and took several Israeli athletes hostage before a botched rescue that ended in a very public, international debacle.

Terrorists use the media as their main source for spreading fear. In the mid-80s Benjamin Netanyahu accurately stated that “manipulation of public opinion is, in fact, central to the terrorist strategy.” He went on to say that because of this, their access to the media is indispensable.

With that in mind we can expect many more fear-driven threats, most of which never make it public. But (and this is where things get serious), considering the recent attack which killed 19 police officers in Xinjiang, the primarily Muslim area in northern China, let’s hope any similar disasters can be averted in or around Beijing.  The only thing most of us hope to see flying through the Chinese airspace in flames are traditionally exciting Chinese fireworks.


AP Photo: Black September 1972 Olympic Games