The Clash Of Civilisations Is HERE?

An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 10 August 2006  


The Muslims of the world may be divided between Sunni and Shia but both feel slighted and so the scourge of terrorism will not go away. A civil war in Iraq is on, as a confused USA began its primaries for the elections and Bush looked less confident for the first time since his two elections. The Israeli attack on Lebanon was to be a swift attack like the Israelis did in 1975 and 1997, but this time the Hezbollah are fighting back strongly. More Israeli soldiers have died than on the Hizbollah side and civilians and children have suffered the most. All this breeds Muslim discontent.

B Raman tells us of plans and details of a recent major terrorist attack that MI5 had averted but how many times and how often?

Operation Bojinka 2006? - International Terrorism Monitor

By B. Raman

Operation Bojinka (meaning explosion or big bang) refers to a thwarted plot of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) and Ramzi Yousef, in association with other members of Al Qa’eda, to blow up 11 passenger aircraft flying from East and South-East Asia to the US on January 21 and 22, 1995.They reportedly intended causing the explosions by smuggling into the aircraft liquid explosives concealed in bottles which are used for carrying contact lens cleaning solution. They intended to set off the explosions through timers. The plot was discovered by the Filippino authorities on January 6/7, 1995. Ramzi Yousef and KSM, who were planning to orchestrate the operation from Manila, managed to run away to Pakistan. Ramzi Yousef, who was earlier involved in the execution of the New York World Trade Centre explosion of February, 1993, was subsequently arrested by the Pakistani authorities and handed over to the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was convicted and is now undergoing his imprisonment in a US jail. KSM orchestrated Al Qaeda's 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and was arrested at Rawalpindi in March, 2003, and handed over to the FBI. He is presently in US custody.

2. The latest terrorist plot in the UK, whose discovery was announced by the Scotland Yard on August 10, 2006, had all the elements of the thwarted Bojinka of 1995 –– simultaneous explosions on 10 passenger aircraft originating from the UK and going to the US and possible use of liquid explosives concealed in bottles which would not cause suspicion. The Scotland Yard were reported to have detained 18 suspects in the Thames Valley area of London and three in the Birmingham area. They were believed to be British nationals of foreign origin. While giving some details of the discovery, a senior Scotland Yard official emphasised that the arrests were not directed at any community but at criminal elements in order to protect the travelling public. This would indicate that the arrested persons were probably Muslims.

3. This discovery has come in the wake of a warning issued by Osama bin Laden through an audio message on January 19, 2006, in which he offered a truce to the American people if the American forces were withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan. It carried an implied warning that if his offer was rejected, another terrorist strike in the US homeland would follow for which, he claimed, preparations were already under way.

4. The discovery by the Scotland Yard indicates how public transportation systems continue to be the favoured targets of the jihadi terrorists and how despite the considerable strengthening of physical security in civil aviation, they have not given up their attempts to find ways of staging spectacular strikes against civil aviation. Since 9/11, the tightening of physical security all over the world has been the strongest in respect of civil aviation and nuclear establishments.

5. The conventional wisdom had been that of all public transportation systems, it was easier to ensure the effective security of civil aviation than of other means of transport. This discovery showed that the jihadi terrorists continued to look for loopholes in civil aviation security, which they can exploit.

6. This also shows the continued quest of the pro-Al Qa’eda jihadi terrorists for simple substances, which can be procured and carried without causing any suspicion and then converted into explosives. It was believed that the explosives used in the 7/7 London blasts were self-fabricated with such substances of day-to-day use.

7. This would call for a re-look at the present civil aviation security infrastructure. One may have to consider banning permanently all duty-free sales on board aircraft and encouraging passengers to do their duty-free shopping at their place of arrival and not before their departure.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd.), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.


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