Sunday, December 19, 2010

Will terrorists attack this Christmas?

Photo by Salvatore Vuono 
As Christmas approaches, the one-year anniversary of the attempted Christmas bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009.  The attack by Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim, failed when a bomb sewn into his underwear failed to detonate properly.

Terror attacks are often planned for symbolic dates or for times when the terrorists can obtain maximum publicity.  For example, an attack on Los Angeles International Airport set for New Year’s Eve, 1999 was foiled by alert Customs agents.  More recently, the FBI foiled a car bomb attack in Portland, Oregon scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend, 2010. 

The date of September 11 was significant in Muslim history as the date of a battle in 1683 in which the army of the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the Battle of Vienna, Austria by the Holy League, an alliance of European countries.  The battle marked the high water mark of the Ottoman Empire and the end of Muslim hopes for control of Europe.

The FAA recently issued a notice stating that, while there is no specific threat, pilots – and Americans in general – should be vigilant and report suspicious activity.  Given the increasing number of terrorists uncovered in the US and terror attacks by American Muslims, this advice should not apply only during the holiday season.

The fact that Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport is a major international hub makes it an attractive target for terrorists.  Many attempted terror attacks, including the Underwear Bomber’s, now originate from other countries due to increased security at US airports.  Atlanta’s large numbers of flights to and from other countries make it a statistically likely target. 

Whether terrorists try to strike us this holiday season or not, they will continue to attack Americans.  By exercising vigilance, we can hopefully prevent attacks and save lives.  

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