Shipped mini-IED? Ho-hum

Posted in War On Terror at 10:36 am by George Smith


Toner-cartridge ersatz bombs to be shipped to Chicago, from Yemen, via UPS?

“Initial reports indicates no trace of explosives,” recites a CNN newsgirl right now. “Is this a dry run?”

Whether it is or not, DD’s take has been that evidence and history suggests al Qaeda is resorting to more and more haphazard, random and threadbare plots, probably because there are less and less competent drawn to the organization. And the pressure put on it worldwide by the US military and intelligence services.

Ineffective underwear bombs and theoretical explosives the size of toner cartridges don’t comprise any existential threat to the country.

In contrast to actual threats to an average American’s security — like mass unemployment and a ruined life — these are not big things to be solved.

On the other hand, it guarantees business at General Atomics and companies making more bomb sniffers will remain solid. But that won’t mean anything better for you.

Two weeks ago DD wrote about al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine here.

It is an example of a certain lack of inspiration in al Qaeda.

When the best you can come up with after years of plotting is to wish jihadis to buy a Ford F-150 with a snowplow blade so that they can go on a monster truck rampage, it appears you’ve been enfeebled.

What could be next?

Attempting to ship fireworks to the US under cover of the days running up to the 4th of July? Mass purchases of matches so as to accumulate red phosphorus? Raiding swimming pool supply stores for hydrochloric acid or breaking open of old car batteries in preparation for acid-throwing-in-a-crowd sprees? Posing as exterminators so that when going out on the day’s run they can spray much higher than recommended concentrations of pesticide? How ’bout a team of jihadis to crap in paper bags and set them on fire on random porches? Training camps on how to start fires in southern California in the dry and windy season? Learning kung-fu so that jihadis can beat up people on airplanes and in airports?

Just imagine what will happen when they start buying lots of charcoal, lighter fluid and paper for shredding!

The mind reels.

“Their foothold in Yemen has become much stronger … their numbers are about 400,” some blowhard on CNN is saying.

It’s always interesting to see how these types of whoopie cushion things overturn all news, derailing all other discussions in favor of the parade of national security profiteers experts. And how they inevitably drift to assumptions having to do with how clever this demonstrates al Qaeda to be.

Coincidentally, great stuff for the GOP since the news has silenced most political coverage. The guys with the lead on the field going into the last two minutes benefit from the running out of the clock on this matter.

It took less than a day for the talking heads to begin talking about ‘sophistication.’

From the Guardian:

Sophisticated bombs contained in packages sent from Yemen were designed to explode in the airand bring down the cargo planes carrying them, UK security officials have confirmed.

Intelligence experts believe the use of the devices, contained in printer cartridges despatched on two Chicago-bound cargo planes, represents a shift in terrorist tactics to commercial targets.

One of the devices was linked to a mobile phone, while the other was attached to a timer. The Observer understands that the East Midlands device was so sophisticated an initial examination by forensics experts initially suggested it did not contain explosives.

On the other hand, one again sees the caveats creep in:

The target of the device may have been an aircraft and, had it detonated, the aircraft could have been brought down,” May said. “But we do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when they planned for it to explode.”

The Metropolitan police said in a statement that “early indications suggest it had the potential to bring down an aircraft in flight.

Not quite as successful as the Unabomber.

The al Qaeda men have been compelled to make ever smaller bombs, their size and complication designed to get them past security while at the same time making them problematical in terms of reliability.

In terms of result of plot, besides tipping over security and giving the usual characters on television and in government the vapors, they’ve succeeded in having all package shipping banned from their country.

Which is a pretty decent and fair solution. Who actually needs shit, besides oil, from the Arabian peninsula?

You could make a pretty good joke reply to UPS’s “logistics” commercial given the company’s role in enabling this matter:


Logistics makes the world work better!

When it’s planes in the sky for a chain of supply, that’s logistics
When the pots for the line come precisely on time, that’s logistics
A continuous link that is always in sync, that’s logistics
Carbon footprint reduced, bottom line gets a boost, that’s logistics
Always new ways to plan so the shit hits the fan, that’s logistics
When technology doesn’t know where everything goes, that’s logistics
When bombs that are wee don’t go poot-doot-doot-dee, that’s logistics
There will be lots of stress ’cause they called UPS, that’s lo-og-i-stics


  1. Nishimiya said,

    October 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Satire has become reality.


  2. Nishimiya said,

    October 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    By the way, when I first read the New Yorker article I thought Trillin was joking. He wasn’t.


  3. George Smith said,

    October 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Ho-ho. Well, if that’s the case there will be a reverse justice to it. People in foreign countries, if the US has a say, must be inveigled into searches when they enter UPS/Kinko’s office stores. It’s only fair. How many UPS fronts can there actually be in a dump like Yemen?

    Exactly four! Wow!

    Sun Tours and Travel
    Authorized Service Contractor for UPS
    Damascus Street – Hadda area
    Republic of Yemen
    Tel.: +967 1 416751
    Tel.: +967 1 418659
    Fax: +967 1 418264

    Al-Maala Street
    Republic of Yemen
    Tel.: +967 2 220788
    Fax: +967 2 247636

    Al-Meina Street
    Republic of Yemen
    Tel.: +967 3 233203
    Tel.: +967 3 233204
    Fax: +967 3 233205

    Al-Kamb Street
    Republic of Yemen
    Tel.: +967 4 226756

    Problem solved.

    DD the Snark

  4. George Smith said,

    October 29, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Alternatively, consider also imposing searches on Internet cafes in Yemen. Where they used Google to look up Chicago synagogues. There must be, what, two or three of them, at least. It’s not like this s— isn’t doable.

    Give them a choice: Searches and background checks or Predator overflights. Which would you like?

  5. George Smith said,

    October 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Blitzer, on CNN, just mentioning ‘al Qaeda in Yemen has even released this new magazine!”

  6. Nishimiya said,

    October 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Apparently the insidious plot was foiled thanks to tips from Saudi intelligence. There’s an odd odor in the air.

  7. blog said,

    October 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    When a UPS Pack Means a New Failed Attack, That’s Logistics…

    Explosives the size of toner cartridges that don’t go boom don’t comprise an existential threat to the country. Another day, another tortured and failed al Qaeda plot. However, it gives us a moment to reflect on the actual worth of UPS business to Ye…

  8. Chuck said,

    October 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Oh crap, I am SO tired of this stuff.

    Allow me to predict that the next thing that will happen is that a bill authorizing financial aid to Yemen to help it battle the evil Al Qaeda will be introduced onto the floor of the Senate this week.

    And a year from now, former Yemeni government officials will be found to have purchased great digs in Paris, London and Zurich.

  9. Nishimiya said,

    October 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Don’t forget the push for more inspections of cargo planes. That should stuff at least another couple of hundred million into some pockets somewhere. `

  10. George Smith said,

    November 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    And don’t miss this! “The Logistics Song!” Redone.