Let’s stop being surprised by “sophisticated” terrorists

The three-stage attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul was well planned, sending a message that security measures alone won’t stop the terrorists. I talked about the issue a few minutes ago with host P.J. Maloney on KQV News Radio in Pittsburgh.

What’s puzzling is why I still see headlines and analysts expressing amazement that the terrorist groups can plan and carry out something “sophisticated” like this. We need to get the image of primitive savages running around the desert on camels out of our heads. ISIS, for example, is “sophisticated” enough to use social media to spread its message. Well, so do I, and so do tens of millions of children.

We live in an age when terror attacks are part of our lives. It’s a sad fact. We need to relate to it realistically. Among the things we need to do are handle this logically and intelligently without trampling all over the rights we’ve come to cherish here in the West. That’s a classic “the terrorists win” situation, and that’s what we’re doing.

We need to fund short-term intelligence programs to infiltrate these groups, and long-term aid programs to win hearts and minds. There’s a target group of hearts, minds and bodies to be helped by Western aid and good will right now–millions of refugees fleeing from conflicts here in the Middle East. What we don’t need to do is step up military measures. They are counter-productive.

And one more word about security. My wife and I flew through Ataturk Airport on our way to Rome a couple of weeks ago. What’s notable here is not that airport, which looked to me like any other airport from the inside–but Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, from where we departed.

IMG_6243

Just a few security steps to go

Driving in, you get stopped briefly by a security guard who takes a good look at you through your open car window. Then you park and walk into the terminal, past another security guard who takes a good look at you. Inside the terminal, unobtrusively, other security guards keep an eye on people. As you stand in line for another security check that amounts to more questions and a close look, security guards make their presence known, asking questions.

The next stage a passport scan and boarding pass check before the usual X-ray scanning of hand luggage, then passport control, scanning an exit slip, and you’re on your way to your gate. Despite all these separate steps, it all goes smoothly and easily–in stark contrast to the scenes in US airports with long lines, TSA agents hollering instructions over and over, everybody practically stripping to the waist and getting full body scans.

groping_or_non-groping-morin1The difference is that word “everybody.” In Israel, everyone gets examined, but not everyone is treated like a suspect. Israel unabashedly uses profiling to single out potential terrorists. It’s not “racial profiling,” as some idiot US official called it a few days ago–it’s terrorist profiling.

Most of the people pulled aside for additional examination are, indeed, Arabs, though others are also questioned.  Israel has decided that for the sake of the rights of 95 percent of airline passengers, a certain small number might have to be inconvenienced. That’s instead of inconveniencing 100 percent of the people with mind-numbing procedures that, because they involve everyone all the time, are ineffective. Some Israeli Arabs have complained about the practice of profiling, understandably, but it’s not going to change–because it works. That’s not to say there will never be another attack on Israel’s airport or a plane taking off from here. No system is perfect, but what I’ve described is just the visible system. There’s more, trust me.

I know that profiling is so politically incorrect that Western countries could never, ever do it. The attack at Ataturk Airport underlines the assessment of an Israeli security expert, who told me that inevitably, Western nations will have to adopt Israel’s method–they’ll just call it something else.

 

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