Sunday, June 04, 2006

Terror in TO

I've been waiting for an incident in Canada such as the one averted in Toronto by the arrest of 17 individuals who had apparently amassed enough explosives to do serious damage on a scale paralleling that of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

There are two things about these incidents which really unnerve me.

The first concerns the ability of anyone with a smattering of chemistry and access to common materials to cause major loss of life. In this case, the basic ingredients are fertilizer and diesel; in others, it could be rust and aluminum as an incendiary primer for fuel installations and the like. Terrorists don't need access to plutonium or military grade materiel to kill in the thousands - all that is really needed is at hand and available at your local hardware and grocery store. Therefore, we can't count on the difficulties in acquiring explosives or toxins as a deterrent.

The other thing which causes me great concern is who would perpetrate such attacks. In the Toronto incident, the plot was deemed to be "Al Qaeda-inspired". Many of those arrested were born in Canada, and according to those who know them seemed "normal". But as was demonstrated in Oklahoma City, religious zealots don't have a monopoly on mass murder. Personally, I think there is a tipping point in a given individual's mind where they cross over, probably permanently, between being unconventional, contrarian and idiosyncratic to the murderously insane. Whether the impetus is provided by religion, persecution, or something as simple as being rejected, the need to exact revenge and make a big statement supercedes all moral foundations.

Apart from surveillance and keeping our fingers crossed for good luck, there is precious little we can do to defend ourselves from the assholes of the world.


Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Too true and too terrifying.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

I agree, this is some scary shit. What's hard to understand is that it doesn't happen more often. Well, we don't hear about it often, anyway.

7:33 PM  
Blogger marty said...

Thankfully the assholes were caught. There is no rationale. These people are assholes.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Indeed. Fortunately, quite a lot of them are also very stupid, take the second lot in London last July as an example.

2:36 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Here's an update for you guys. It now appears that "radical" websites frequented by these guys were infiltrated very early on by our intelligence (?) services. The fertilizer in question was actually purchased directly from RCMP operatives in a sting operation.

I'm not a chemist, but isn't there something which could be added to fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) which would render it ineffective for weapons but wouldn't affect its agricultural applications? Just a thought. I mean, driving around the countryside I could pick up a few bags of fertilizer at a time from feed stores without drawing any attention to myself and within a few weeks I'd have amassed the three tonnes seized in the raid. But if the fertilizer had some other ingredient to neutralize its explosive potential, I wouldn't bother.

4:59 AM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

This Toronto terrorist incident really has me baffled. Canada is one of the friendliest tolerant nations on the face of the earth, isn’t involved in Iraqnam, in fact has condemned it, and here some moslem snapper-heads that want to play Al Quieda and kill Canadians. They have one thing going for them - no death penalty up in your neck of the woods.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Eternally Curious said...

I think the fact that there is no real defense against these terrorists is what makes our agencies so lax and ineffective. The "it's useless" syndrome. And it's just that attitude the terrorists, I believe, count on. That and fear. No doubt it's all scary shit ... so I say the best individual defense is to refuse to live in fear. I do know that's easier said than done. But I also know first-hand about living in fear. For myself, I will never willingly live in fear again.

7:45 AM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...


From the description of the place you live, all you could do with your home-made fertilizer nuke is blow a hole in the dirty snow. Ok, it'd still be pretty cool to watch, though. You coudl call it a Drift-buster bomb or something .

5:21 PM  
Blogger Eternally Curious said...

Hey Nanuk - TPK's last post made me think (don't faint!) You and your townfolk could lay claim to being responsible for the "dirty bomb" nickname! Then maybe those terrorists in your neighborhood would think twice about messing with y'all!! teeheehee ... :))

(No ... I have NOT been drinking. Yet!!)

8:01 PM  
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2:46 PM  
Blogger SC said...

Who on earth is this Al Qaeda guy anyway, and why has he got a Western first name? You'd think he'd stick out like a sore thumb with a name like that.

8:14 PM  
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