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July 12, 2005

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Police sources suggest that all four bombers died, in what some analysts are dubbing the first suicide attacks on the British mainland.

Apropos to this, 2 shoes passed on this link to an interview with Robert Pape. Kevin Drum links to it, as well as a great link to Dan Drezner and a review by Michael Scheuer.

Congrats to the British: this is really good news.

Seconded. Let's hear it for intel and law enforcement solutions.

Why would suicide bombers set everything off at once?

Unless they were in line of sight of one another and could signal "Now!," they must've used timing devices.

Now, they could have done just that - there's no particular reason to think they wouldn't - but it still seems kind of weird.

Like, maybe they didn't know the bombs were on timing devices. Which reinforces the theory there was an accomplice, who maybe didn't think they'd go through with the attack and wanted to make sure it happened.

Is it possible they didn't know the bombs were intended to go off in the Tube? Were they all on their way to some other target - where they thought they'd leave the bombs, then skedaddle off before the explosions? Some more high-profile target, like a museum or castle? Or could they have thought this was a practice run?

I'm assuming they at least knew they were carrying bombs. There's no ordinary consumer tote-around gadget I know of that weighs 10 pounds, not even laptops. But this wouldn't be first time a terrorist used a mule who didn't know what they were carrying.

It just seems strange that suicide bombers would also have timing devices set to go off simultaneously.

Fed Policy

This is not a wingnut.

It just seems strange that suicide bombers would also have timing devices set to go off simultaneously.

It's a common strategy, military or otherwise, to hit targets simultaneously. It sows confusion amongst the defenders as to which target they should concentrate their resources on.

In terms of terror strategy, you don't want to afford the defence the opportunity to evacuate your secondary and tertiary targets.

"Seconded. Let's hear it for intel and law enforcement solutions."

I doubt the people who died are applauding. I imagine they wish the source had been killed before they were.


I believe the reason that they set off bombs simultaneously is to avoid a protective reaction. If they were detonated by those carrying them, simple synchronization of watches, a la every war movie, would have been sufficient.

I believe there was some discussion (by Juan Cole?) about how this was intended to cow moderate muslims, hence, the targeting of transportation that serves Muslim areas in London. If that is the case, it was probably not to do maximum damage, nor was it to 'make a statement' (in a way that setting off the bomb in a high profile target would)

Why would suicide bombers set everything off at once?

Unless they were in line of sight of one another and could signal "Now!," they must've used timing devices.

Am I missing something here? Synchronizing watches so that widely-separated elements can perform tasks at the same time has been a useful element since . . . well, since there were watches.

They may well have been on timers, and still have been a suicide attack. My understanding is that Londoners, particularly those old enough to have lived through the IRA bombing campaigns, are particularly suspicious of unattended packages. Staying with them would allay those fears.

You're right, of course. I forgot about synchronizing watches. D'oh!

And, also, apparently that the attacks were actually almost an hour apart. I think you can get that level of synchronisation with an abacus and a piece of string with a rock on the end.

McDuff, are you sure about that? The IHT has this

The three bombings were synchronized to within 45 seconds of one another, according to London Underground, while the attack on the red Number 30 double-decker bus happened just under one hour later. The police said 52 people died in the four attacks.

Don't question McDuff, LJ -- he's from London!

In all seriousness, your version via the IHT is the correct one.

I can certainly understand how someone from London might not want to follow every twist and turn. A few New Yorkers I know showed the same kind of reaction to 9/11.

Tac, I've lost the RedState ID I had several months ago and frankly I'll just annoy myself and everyone else to death if I re-register. So, two questions in response to your latest:

--does an halting all Muslim immigration include any exemptions for, say, women seeking asylum because they are threatened by honor killings, FGM, sentences to be raped like Pakistan goes in for, severe domestic abuse, and the rest of the litany of horrors I could rattle off? From Muslim men and women fleeing the genocide in Darfur?

--if we are surrounded by this sort of Enemy Within that makes it necessary to send people back to near certain death...I have ridden the El, the NY subway, the Long Island Railroad and the MBTA more times than I can count. I can tell you: if you wanted to smuggle a bomb on board, it just would not be hard to do. Our transit systems, with the possible, partial exception of New York, are much less well prepared for this than London. They haven't even taken the garbage cans out. Oh, it wouldn't be the sort of spectacular that bin Laden goes in for, but he's more than happy to rent out the franchise name to incompetents like the shoe bomber when the opportunity arises. And you wouldn't actually need direct sponsorship from Al Qaida at all.

Suicide bombing is not rocket science, if you have a supply of willing bombers. As Iraq and Israel know only too well.

So. Why hasn't it happened, even once, since September 11 (or possibly the anthrax attacks, though I suspect those were domestic)?

You don't need to point out to me that even a few people can wreak all kinds of slaughter and havoc. If it's a few people, restricting legal immigration when they're quite likely to come illegally anyway, at the cost of alienating the community most likely to be able to turn the bastards in, might be rather stupid.

When I heard that all three bombs on the Underground had gone off either at a station or just leaving a station, I assumed that the bombers had done it by getting up and leaving, leaving the package behind. Of course all Londoners watch out for unattended luggage, but - particularly in the rush-hour - there's a very good chance it wouldn't be noticed immediately. But if all three bombs went up inside 45 seconds, that does argue against it and argue for suicide bombers using synchronised watches. This is all speculation, of course.

The Times reports that "an Asian man was killed today in a suspected racist attack in Nottingham".

The posting rules do not permit me to give my heartfelt response to this news, but... Ah, I am ashamed. We should do better than this.

Any chance Katherine's at 02:48 AM could get repeated as a top-level post?

Congrats to the British: this is really good news.

This is not good news. It means Britain, and I write here as someone who lives in London, is facing a home grown terrorist threat never seen before. Even the IRA when they bombed London and other British cities wished to flee the scene of the crime with their lives in tact. Now we are faced with the prospect of more suicide bombers which, as the Israeli government knows, are virtually impossible to prevent.

The second bit of bad news in my opinion is the now likely prospect, reported from British police sources, that the bombers were British citizens albeit of foreign Islamic extraction. This does not bode well for good community relations. Whilst London may be a very ethnically diverse and vibrant city and largely devoid of serious racial tensions, the fact that the bombers came from Leeds suggest to me that community relations in some of our northern towns and cities are in a very poor state. Good news? No. For Britain this is the worst possible outcome of the bombings.

Much work now need to be done by all sorts of groups to make the Muslim communities of the UK more attached to mainstream British society. At the moment this is not the case.

Jesurgislac: Any chance Katherine's at 02:48 AM could get repeated as a top-level post?

Seconded. This discussion needs to be had in a forum that doesn't "purge" dissenters and throw them on metaphorical "piles" (lovely Stalinist imagery, that).

Seconded. This discussion needs to be had in a forum that doesn't "purge" dissenters and throw them on metaphorical "piles" (lovely Stalinist imagery, that).

May I recommend Tacitus II as a nuetral meeting ground, doesn't seem to be an idealogical purge in action at present, and I would be loathe to see the current Redstate crowd visiting this refined quarter of the blogosphere. Call me a snob if you must.

Postit: May I recommend Tacitus II as a nuetral meeting ground

You can recommend it, but that won't make it so.

Now Gromit, your access to RS is of course unimpeded. Postit's isn't, but that's his own fault.

Katherine, I'm happy to give you your RS password if you want it.

Finally, Jesurgislac may wish to clue herself in to what's been going on at tacitus.org of late.

Jesurgislac may wish to clue herself in to what's been going on at tacitus.org of late.

Okay, Tac: how about you clue me in? ;-)

Katherine, re 2:48 am post "So why hasn't it happened even once since 9/11". This,as you mention,concerns NY,America. There is a possible,very possible,answer,you might say the answer that dare not speak it's name. Part of the answer lies in the word retribution,the other part is the name of a man I am too fainthearted to post ,fearful of the roars of indignation and imprecations of the insulted. But thanks for asking the question.

"Seconded. Let's hear it for intel and law enforcement solutions."

I doubt the people who died are applauding. I imagine they wish the source had been killed before they were.

Absolutely. The justice system does not provide "victory".

Jes: Go to Tacitus.org. Look around. You'll figure it out.

And that's the end of this discussion, folks. Let's stay on topic.

fair enough. I'd rather not ask for a password, but there's no need to take this off topic. you can consider this closed.

Oh, oh, it appears I've made an enemy in yonder Tacitus by daring to disagree with him on his stomping ground, such that he feels the need to come over here and snip at me.

However will I cope?

I imagine they wish the source had been killed before they were.

Absolutely. The justice system does not provide "victory".

Huh? Both the military and "intel and law enforcement" approaches are after-the-fact, blogme and von. What could the 42nd Commandos have done to kill "the source" of these attacks? Whom should we have invaded on September 10, 2001 that would have made a shred of difference?

Good news? No. For Britain this is the worst possible outcome of the bombings.

In fairness Hilzoy meant that the police have made rapid progress, which is good news. The bad news, as Brian points out, is that terrorists have shown they can employ disaffected Brits as cannon-fodder. Juan Cole has some interesting comments on this, with a link to a group">http://www.csj.org/">group which studies cults. That kind of knowledge is likely to be in demand in the future. Incidentally, Cole pointed out last week that the message (in Arabic) claiming responsibility for the attack didn’t have an authentic jihadist ring to it. If the author was a Pakistani that wouldn’t be too surprising.

What could the 42nd Commandos have done to kill "the source" of these attacks?

Good question. If any good can come out of this, it will be that more people become disenchanted with militarism and start using intelligence, in both senses of the word.

Tacitus: Now Gromit, your access to RS is of course unimpeded. Postit's isn't, but that's his own fault.

And my religious beliefs and natural-born citizenship status wouldn't have me banned from setting foot inside the U.S., either. I guess I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about what is done to others who are not so lucky?

a) Our posting rules are basically one off of those that Tacitus used back in the day, Gromit.

b)If you've got issues with the rules Tacitus applies on his own site, this is probably the last place on the planet that you'd get any kind of change as a result of voicing them. The last I checked, email still works.

Von, I see no reason to go anywhere near a site where I'm banned from commenting just to "look around".

And I still want Katherine's comment posted as a separate top-level post of its own. If Obsidian Wings won't do it, Katherine, can I do so on livejournal?

Not meaning to drag this out further, but this merits a reply:

Slartibartfast: a) Our posting rules are basically one off of those that Tacitus used back in the day, Gromit.

I'm not talking about Tacitus, the man or the website, here. I'm talking about RedState which, contrary to their own claims, is going on an ideological banning spree. Edward was already threatened with banning in the thread under discussion. His history with Tacitus got him a pass (and, I might add, I probably also enjoy this privilege). I am blissfully ignorant of Tacitus' personal role in any of this, and have no desire for this to change.

b)If you've got issues with the rules Tacitus applies on his own site, this is probably the last place on the planet that you'd get any kind of change as a result of voicing them. The last I checked, email still works.

It's not just his site, and that I can see it is not him publicly applying the rules. And of course it is their collective right to kick folks off for whatever reason, and to rationalize or outright lie about their motives in doing so. It was funny when it was done in the service of punishing those who dare speak ill of Karl Rove, but now that the discussion is one about official religious exclusion, I thought it worthwhile to second Jes's desire to import the debate to a site with a more adult attitude toward the expression of opinion.

But now Katherine has thrown her two cents in on the original thread, so we'll see how it goes.

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