Terror and insecurity

Posted on Fri 11 August 2006

I was in New-York earlier this week (for work), and flew back to Toulouse via London yesterday, when the terrorist alert was raised. The plane landed on time in Heathrow, but it then took us more than 1 hour to effectively enter the airport. Because of increased security measures, all disembarking tunnel were allocated, and even temporary parkings were full. Once having stopped at a distant parking place, we had again to wait for buses, because there weren't enough of them to empty all long-haul planes that couldn't reach the tunnels.

I then had to transfer to Gatwick where my flight to Toulouse was taking off. Changing airport seemed like a burden at first, but actually saved my day, as Heathrow was actually totally closed for take-off. A colleague of mine that was heading to Leiden in the Netherlands from Heathrow is still stuck in London!

Arriving in Gatwick, there was a giant mess in the departure hall: all baggages had to be checked-in. No cabin suitcase, no handbag, no mobile phone, no nothing were allowed in the cabin. Even no book (could be saturated with liquid explosive, you know). Only passport, boarding card, a wallet and keys (but no key+remote used for cars).

After waiting for checking-in, waiting for the screening and waiting again for boarding (the flight was delayed for more than 2 hours 30), we finally took off. The usual reglementary blah-blah in the plane to sound a bit weird: "all mobile phones must now been switched off". Of course, they're in the hold. "Please take care when opening the overhead lockers as some objects may fall out". What objects?

But more than that, the augmented security measures to get in the plane actually created very interesting conditions for terrorists: there were hundreds if not thousands of people packed in the departure hall, waiting for the saturated baggage system to check-in their stuff. Someone could have stopped his car in front of the hall and dropped a nice big bomb there, and that would have been way more easier than getting the constituants of a bomb in separate pieces through the security screening to assemble them on board.

Increased security measures actually led to more unsecure conditions.

But even if no one was killed, the terrorists actually reached their goal: insufflate terror in people's mind. As usual, TV journalists used their amazing ability to speak for hours of things they have no real facts about. And when you have no facts, then you switch to more subjectives analysis, envision the most catrastrophic scenario and consequently augment the terror feeling.

Bush is also a master in this exercise: commenting on the fact, his "victory against islamic fascists" propaganda made me puke. He is as fundamentalist as the terrorists are, but has the legitimity of his seat in the oval office to engrave fear and xenophobia into a whole nation's mind.

See also Zefrank's reaction to this (via Matthew).

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