The Shoe Bomber and Other Tales of Terrorism
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Richard Reid -- Convicted Shoe Bomber
Richard Reid -- Convicted Shoe Bomber
Not to be confused with unidentified look-alike

A case in point is the infamously ineffective Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid. His story is a pathetic example that would have been worthy of a Darwin Award -- except he didn't succeed in dying. Sadly for him, not only wouldn't his customized footwear ignite because they got wet, but he evidently didn't put enough thought into how he would actually activate the explosive without attracting attention.

Perhaps he thought that after the events of September 11th, fellow passengers would be on the alert for covert, clever, less conspicuous terrorist attempts. He evidently didn't realize that his unusual appearance alone would attract attention, much less the act of bending down and trying to detonate his shoes.

The Shoe Bomber and Other Tales of Terrorism

Terrorists are not a new phenomenon. They have long used bombs and other means to destroy lives and property in order to undermine established order by the day-to-day functioning of society all over the world.

In 1956, the Mad Bomber terrorized New York City. In 1998, the Unabomber was sentenced to life in prison for 16 bomb attacks between 1978 and 1995. On May 31, 2003, fugitive Eric Rudolph was captured. He had evaded arrest for the 1996 Olympics bombing, and the bombings of a gay nightclub and two women's clinics for five years.

To wear or carry explosives into an area that would otherwise be inaccessible is viewed by some as the ultimate self-sacrifice, and a courageous act of dedication to a righteous cause. Not all attempts at heroic self-destruction go off without a hitch, however.

Suicide bombers, despite the horrific damage and human casualties they may inflict, seem to have missed the point of dedication to a cause.

The selfless perseverance of Gandhi, who urged his followers to practice civil disobedience nonviolently, preferring suicide to harming others, eventually won India's independence from Great Britain. Buddhist monks who publicly sacrificed their lives by self-immolation shocked many into thinking differently about America's involvement in the Viet Nam conflict. Even the sight of Palestinians throwing stones at fully armed Israeli soldiers has made many re-think the ethics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I think General George S. Patton summed it up best: "I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country."

Willing to Sacrifice for a Cause: Point
Link to Enlarged Picture and Article
Willing to Sacrifice for a Cause: Counterpoint

Additional Resources:

Page Contents:
  • The Shoe Bomber and Other Tales of Terror
  • FBI Catalogs Potential Weapons
  • Index of Terrorist Incidents and Groups
  • General Terrorism Resources
  • Alternative Viewpoints
  • Related 2nd Sight Articles

Link to page with bomb disposal gear
What to wear under the Bomb Disposal Suit

FBI Catalogs Potential Weapons

August 7, 2003 Washington -- The FBI is urging airport security personnel to watch for dozens of seemingly everyday items -- from hairbrushes to crucifixes -- that can conceal knives or other weapons terrorists could use to hijack an airliner.

Many cost less than $20, are readily available and can be difficult to detect using airport screening devices, according to an FBI statement accompanying the 89-page catalog which has been converted into a compact disc and circulated to airport screeners and law enforcement around the country amid heightened vigilance intended to prevent another suicide hijacking by al-Qaida.

"It was designed to raise security awareness for law enforcement and airline security," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said.

US law enforcement officials previously have warned that al-Qaida might use improvised or easily obtained substances to mount attacks, especially chemicals that are dangerous when mixed. What makes the FBI weapons list unusual is that most of the concealable knives, pepper spray devices, and other items are inexpensive and can be purchased from manufacturers in the United States and other countries.

Knives can be concealed in belt buckles, hairbrushes and combs, working cigarette lighters, crucifixes, lipstick cases, canes, umbrellas, keychains, pens, mock credit cards and money clips. While many of the blades are small, others can be over 4 inches long and some are sword-length.

Among the more exotic items is a deck of fake playing cards made of metal, with sharp edges, that can be thrown with deadly results. One fake key made in Japan conceals a knife and a smaller key that could be used to escape from handcuffs.

One device, called a "shuckra," is a metal tube containing a wire that, when locked into place, becomes a hardened spike that could be used as a dagger.

There are false name-brand soup, hairspray, shaving cream, and cleanser cans with hidden compartments the FBI calls them "can safes" where weapons or dangerous substances could be placed. Fake books with hollowed centers are used as safes.

Each item in the catalog is shown with a ruler to give security personnel a sense of scale and an X-ray image of how it might appear when viewed in a screening device at an airport or building entrance.

The FBIs collection was purchased through catalogs, at knife shows and through other commercial outlets. Officials said none of the items was confiscated from passengers. -- Excerpted from the full article with video and graphics at MSNBC

Article: Congress Releases 9/11 Report

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