Home Columns Books Papers Biography Contact

Columns and Articles by Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman

December 03, 2010

What Can We Do About Fear of Flying?

Whenever I fly, I get patted down because my titanium hip replacement sets off the alarm. I am used to it—and try to be good humored—as do the earnest agents who know how silly this is (considering that I am not a 15-30-year-old man nor a woman wearing a burqa).

Scanners are now in many airports—and they will both reduce the time spent in security lines and make it much less of a nuisance to taking off shoes, belts, and other things that could mask on-board weapons or explosives.

The fuss being made about agents at some distance being able to see naked bodies (not recognizable) on the screen strikes me as amazing, considering the willingness of most Americans to shockingly reveal all in Facebook or Reality TV.

We really could drop all this security stuff and take our chances. But in that case, don’t hold the government responsible if a terrorist manages to succeed. Whatever we do, it is very probable that despite our government’s best efforts, there will be a successful attack on at least one flight.

How real are our risks?

• Gradiose plots. Al Qaeda and their ilk continue to try. They once thought they could bring down a whole fleet of aicrcraft flying from Asia to America. That plot was exposed and its planners jailed.

• Simpler Plots. They have tried hiding explosives in shoes, in underwear, and in bottles in hand luggage with combustible formulas when combined. All of these plots were foiled—some by pure luck and by the ineptitude of the operatives.

• Profiling. Civil liberties activists have made a great fuss about the practice of profiling, reminding us of the times that merely being Black could get that person stopped by police for no reason. However, what about profiling when it is reasonable? What about watching for young men of Middle East extraction who are known (through intelligence) for having suspected connections with terrorist organizations? What about watching for such people wearing clothing that may hide suicide belts—including women in burqas?

In the 1970s, we had to profile a range of potential terrorists, not just Palestinians, who wanted to hijack aircraft. Today, it is only Jihadi Muslims who want to do this—and are willing to die blowing up the aircraft. We know who they are and what their Islamo-fascist ideology demands of them. Check terrorist watch lists!

• Changing Geography. Terrorist organizations that began in the Middle East and South Asia (Palestinian, Saudi, Pakistani, and Iranian) are now global. They are from Indonesia, the Philippines, East Africa (Yemen, Somalia, and Kenya), North Africa and West Africa (Nigeria), Europe, and the US. Now there are cells in Latin America—where profiling is harder to do because the operatives look like many of the natives. Fortunately, a few key arrests have been made. An important Hezbollah operative, arrested in Paraguay, was manufacturing counterfeit money and documents and selling stolen vehicles and video games with proceeds going to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Colombia has extradited Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled, a Syrian-Venezuelan—a big catch. His drug money supports regional terrorist organizations such as FARC and ELN, and the US is interested in his buying off high-level members of the Venezuelan government officials.

How much should we expect our government to protect us from all dangers? If we are not willing to give up some of our civil liberties, we need to know what is needed for reasonable security. We must permit our security people to profile and infiltrate as much as possible in mosques and Muslim organizations and Internet hate sites. While most Muslims are law-abiding, a dangerous faction that combines Islam and fascism threatens us and innocent Muslims alike. Letting Intelligence do its work is our best protection.

We must also remember that flying isn’t the only danger we face. These terrorists really want to do something big—and public—and with major destruction and death tolls. For this, our own vigilance and National Security operatives are our best protection. This war, like all others, will eventually end.

•682 words

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and writer. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.