Tens of thousands of travelers in Britain have had their vacations or business trips wrecked today by a security alert at the highest level. Acting on intelligence, the authorities have suspended flights. It seems that plans were about to come to a head to blow up nine aircraft in mid-air from Britain to the United States. The plans are also said to involve sophisticated chemistry with inflammable liquids to be mixed during flight. So far there have been 21 arrests.
I have been listening to BBC reporters interviewing this family and that who won’t now be fulfilling their plans but are caught in frustration and misery at airports. But who are the people causing the chaos and arousing the fear? The home secretary has held a press conference, as grave as he is mysterious on the subject. A police spokesman warns in the same sphinx-like mode of “unimaginable consequences.” BBC newsmen one and all speak of terrorists, plotters, suspects, anything except Muslim. Everyone in Britain that I have heard has been mealy mouthed. The American Michael Chertoff was alone in speculating that the operation bears signs of al-Qaeda. It will be absolutely amazing if the 21 arrested are anything other than Muslims, and until the public is brought to face reality we are all going to be losers time and again as the war on terror gathers.