(EDIT: See my post on the 2012 underwear bombing here) On Christmas Day, 2009 Nigerian citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab got on board a flight bound for America. He had a bomb in his shorts. The bomb consisted of an unkown amount of PETN, or pentrite (pentaerythritol tetranitrate for all you sticklers), and some sort of firing device, like a blasting cap. He exposed a fatal flaw in the American Airline security system. Let’s discuss.PETN is a common explosive used in detonating cord, commonly called primacord or detcord. PETN has an R.E. Factor of 1.66 (relative effectiveness factor. Important for safe distance calculations, not so important for underwear bombs). In comparison, TNT is the standard for R.E. Factor at 1.00, and C4 has an R.E. Factor of 1.34. This all deals with the speed at which the substance burns, and therefore explodes. PETN burns at roughly 7,000 to 8,000 meters per second.
So here’s the issue. We’ve all been to the airport since the 9/11 attacks, and seen the security implementations designed to mitigate the chances of a terror attack. These include metal detectors, explosives detection devices, and even the “puffer” the machine that puffs air at you and then samples the debris that is embedded within your clothing, hair, and skin. All staffed by inexperienced “specialists” who get paid about $8.50 an hour. I don’t know the type of security precautions they use in Amsterdam, where Umar boarded the plane, but I will assume they are comparable until further information comes along.
Many of the more conservative Americans will embrace (not publicly, of course, because we have to be sensitive and politically correct!) racial profiling of Muslim people. This is ignorant and ridiculous. The majority of Muslim people in the world are not violent of hateful towards Americans. Besides, this Abdullmutallab was a Nigerian. He’s not Arab. Racial profiling wouldn’t have caught him.
On the other hand, the last guy to bring PETN aboard an aircraft was Richard Reid. The shoe bomber. This guy was American! So the current policy of randomized searches is a better tool. Yet, I’ve been selected a number of times for randomized screening. In uniform. Excuse me, Sergeant Perna, will you please remove your shoes, open your bags, and come to us to a private screening room? Your bag tested positive for explosives.
Well of course it did. I just got home from Iraq. My laptop bag is covered in cordite form indirect fire attacks.
Not that I don’t understand the necessity for such searches.
Let’s talk more about Umar. This kid had an active U.S. Passport with a few stamps on it. He’s been to the U.S. multiple times. He comes from an affluent family in Nigeria. His posts on an internet chat board mostly dealt with teenage angst regarding his popularity and the opposite sex. Typical. He doesn’t fit the profile of a terrorist. Or does he?
When I was in high school, my junior year, our rival school, Columbine, was attacked by two young boys, my age, dealing with the same issues I was. The media was quick to blame their parents, video games, psychological instability, music, TV, and everything that could have possibly influenced these boys.
How do we mitigate the risk of terror attacks when they come from anywhere?
Stand by for Sergeant Perna’s terrorist awareness plan. Carry your own weapon. Concealed. Everywhere. My .45 caliber 1911 with +P brass jacketed hollow point ammunition travels with me to protect myself, my wife, and my fellow Americans who travel disarmed. The last terror suspect, Najibullah Zazi, was arrested very near to my apartment in Colorado. Last year, I left a Walmart just minutes before a criminal stole a police officer’s taser and electrocuted the crap out of her. Fortunately, we’re moving to the mountains where everyone owns a firearm.
Some of you might say that this is a right-wing, gun-toting, wild west idea. Sure it is. I’m a conservative when it comes to national defense, and a liberal when it comes to social and cultural policies. The mountain community we are moving to, however, has a higher rate of firearm ownership than urban communities in Colorado. It also has one of the lowest crime rates in the state. The violent crime rate for Gilpin County is 0.04%, which is outstanding.
Besides, when the shit hits the fan, who would you want protecting your family? A police officer, while altruistic and good natured, who is firing his firearm outside of the range for the first time? Or a combat hardened Marine or soldier who draws down and thinks to himself “business as usual”?