1. Either Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab was bored while the A330 was on final approach to the airport and decided to pass the time by setting his legs on fire; or he intended to destroy the plane, killing its passengers and crew, and very likely people on the ground.
2. His own father, a Nigerian banking nob, had reported his activities to the United States embassy and Nigerian security agencies. (Tip o' the cloth cap to View from the Right.)
3. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said that "my understanding ... is that while (the suspect) is not on a watch list, he definitely has terror connections."
Beyond that, the details are somewhat fuzzy -- what kind of ingredients Abdulmutallab junior carried, why he was not on any "no fly" list when his own father had warned about his inclinations, and whether his mission was sponsored by al Qaeda. The media will make a big deal about the latter. But what difference does it make? Do you feel safer if he was only a loser who wanted to make a statement against the Great Satan on his own?
We've seen this movie before, and it doesn't get any better on repeated viewings. The usual routine is already beginning.
That's what makes these stunts a win-win for Muslim terrorists. Even if the plot goes pear-shaped, they win by making security screening an ordeal in every possible format. Instead of arriving at the airport two hours before an international flight, it will be three, then four. Eventually no one will fly unless they have no choice. Soon thereafter no one will fly at all, airlines will go broke all at once instead of half a dozen per year, and militants will return to the good old days of placing infernal devices on Wall Street horse-driven delivery vans.
Direct fallout of this incident is more rigorous security checks by airlines. A spokesperson for BAA said British passengers travelling to the U.S. should expect their airline to carry out additional security checks prior to boarding.
"To support this important process, which will take time, we would advise passengers to leave more time to check in and limit the amount of baggage being taken on board the aircraft," she added. "If in any doubt, please contact the relevant airline for further information."A Department of Homeland Security statement Friday told air passengers that they "may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the travelling public on domestic and international flights."
The new, more intense security screening tends to emphasize the mode of the last attempted atrocity. Since Richard Reid tried to bring down an airliner over the Atlantic by igniting explosives in his shoe, we've all had to remove our shoes and place them along with our jackets, belts, pocket change, and laptops in the x-ray conveyor belt.
Abdulmutallab seems to have had one component of the explosive or incendiary agent on his legs. I already hear the TSA functionary of the future shouting at the passenger queue: "Pants down! Skirts up! Place your legs in the plastic tray! Pants down! Skirts up! Place your legs in the plastic tray! Pants down! Skirts up! Place your legs in the plastic tray!"
By the way, there is nothing easygoing about security screening at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport ... at least if you are a non-Muslim. My wife and I transited through Schiphol last October. It is very thorough -- too thorough for my wife's liking. She complained that the woman security officer patting her down was getting altogether too intimate. I watched in dismay as she was whisked to a booth, a curtain was forcibly drawn, and she was given the treatment a second time. I was afraid she'd be arrested. And at the gate for our transatlantic flight, there was yet another security screening. Water bottles were confiscated, even if bought at the airport, on the airside.
Despite denials all around, profiling is routinely practiced in airport security. Muslims are singled out for less inspection. In Europe as well as the United States, airport security has to maintain the ludicrous idea that terrorism is random, and anyone is as likely to be a terrorist as anyone else. So instead of concentrating on the greatest risks, and we all know what group they belong to (though not which individuals), the scrutiny has to be diluted by being applied equally to everyone. Security personnel's time and alertness should be focused. Instead it is official policy that they be diffused.
The fundamental problem isn't security at all. It's Islamization of western countries. Once you acknowledge Muslim colonization as legitimate, a cascade of secondary problems follows, of which aviation security is only one. We are asking for trouble, and we are getting it.