[FoRK] Death by terrorism

Damien Morton fork
Fri Aug 12 14:22:30 PDT 2005

Thats right. Its just ludicrous.

I mean, the effort of acquring a scud and a ship is just massive 
compared to using a shipping company to ship your bomb to a known address.

Say the guards at the loading dock at building X "we werent expecting a 
shipping container full of plasticine".

On the other hand, this peice of disinformation is aimed at Iran, not at 
al Quaeda.

> Heh.  I guess if I were a terrorist I would have to ask myself why I'd 
> need to use a SCUD vs. just stuffing a ship full of explosives and 
> sailing up the Hudson River... what's the incremental benefit?  In fact, 
> you can't pack much explosive power into a SCUD at all, but you may be 
> able to chuck some crude NBC weapons in there.  You also can't really be 
> too deterministic about where it goes.  It's just as likely to hit a 
> pasture in New Jersey as it is to hit anywhere in Manhattan from a 
> reasonable distance.  
> And just because I did a standoff attack doesn't mean I'm going to get 
> away with it.  Obviously someone will figure out where it came from 
> before I can steam away, and there will be launch rails, fueling tools, 
> and all kinds of other evidence.
> And besides, the types of terrorists we deal with today generally don't 
> even intend to "get away with it".  They die with their bombs -- in 
> fact, they are quite unprepared for what to do when the explosion fails, 
> as the London bombings illustrate.
> The knowing acceptance, by the perpetrators, of a 100% chance of dying 
> in the successful achievement of their goals is the only real innovation 
> we've seen in North American and European terrorism in the past 50 or so 
> years.  All previous anti-terrorism strategies have relied upon the 
> belief that a terrorist ultimately wants to both A) achieve his/her 
> goals and B) survive to tell the tale.  Prior to 9/11 the entire civil 
> aviation defense posture was designed to stop a DB Cooper, not a  Ziad 
> Jarrah <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziad_Jarrah>.  This farcical 
> proposal is an example of pre-911 thinking on a billion-dollar scale and 
> does nothing to stop the guy who's willing to accept certain death for 
> his cause (which is generally cheaper, more accurate, and more 
> politically effective).
> And Patriots might be good at knocking down missiles, but not so good at 
> destroying them.  The rain of SCUD debris on Tel Aviv after a successful 
> Patriot intercept was exactly as dangerous as the successful impact and 
> detonation of a SCUD itself.  And the Patriot had a pretty awful success 
> rate in the Gulf War (I) to boot.
>     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_missile#Usage_during_the_1991_Gulf_War
> This will hopefully die on the vine, just as the whole National Missile 
> Defense pipe dream appears to be withering slowly.
> -Ian.
> On 12-Aug-05, at 12:52 PM, Damien Morton wrote:
>> http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/howtomakewar/default.asp?target=HTADA.HTM
>> August 10, 2005: Defense contractor Lockheed Martin, taking advantage 
>> of the widespread fear of terrorist attack in the United States, has 
>> proposed a billion dollar anti-missile defense system for the 
>> northeast coast of the United States. Lockheed Martin believes  it is 
>> likely that terrorists would use cargo ships as launching platforms 
>> for SCUD missiles. Existing Patriot anti-aircraft missile technology 
>> would be used to shoot down the SCUDs before they could hit any of the 
>> urban areas from Boston to Washington. The latest version of Patriot 
>> has a proven track record in knocking down SCUD type missiles. What?s 
>> interesting about this proposal is that no terrorists have been known 
>> to have obtained SCUD missiles, or seagoing cargo ships. Lockheed 
>> Martin said it spent a year analyzing this problem.
>> It?s long been feared that terrorists, especially well financed ones, 
>> could easily by older merchant ships (the ?tramp steamer? often 
>> featured in fiction for over a century), and use them to set off a 
>> cargo of explosives in a major American port. So far, no one has been 
>> able to find terrorist owned cargo ships. Terrorist owned SCUD 
>> missiles are a relatively new threat, and none of those has been 
>> uncovered either. But you can?t be too careful, especially if there?s 
>> a chance you can get another billion bucks out of Congress.

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