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Home > Culture and Society

Just Plane Crazy

30 August 2006

Well, thrash us with celery and call us Susan, but turns out there might really have been an airplane bomb plot after all. We'd be the first to admit, as news of the mass arrests of suspects broke a couple of weeks ago, that the whole idea of a scheme to smuggle liquid explosives and detonators onto trans-Atlantic flights ranked 'Yeah, really' on our Great Big Friday Thing Cynic-o-meter.

There's been so much crying wolf from the likes of Ian Blair and John Reid in recent months, the thought of being blown to smithereens by exploding baby milk and gel bra inserts filled us with exactly this amount of horror: none at all. It staggers us to learn, then, that they might have been just a little bit right after all, even if there may or may not have been any actual bombs; or, as any chemist would tell you, the ability to knock up a batch of explosives in an airline toilet.

And yet they've still done nothing - NOTHING - about those motherfuckin' snakes.

While the average air traveller is finding it impossible to find a parking space at Heathrow these days, what with armoured cars blocking the approach roads (leftover BBC props of Lt Gruber's little tank from 'Allo Allo', as it happens, conspiracy fans), and bewildered holidaymakers camping out in the cardboard city outside Terminal Three, we went on our holidays, clutching our meagre possessions to our chest in an Asda carrier bag. You will be pleased to hear that we made it back with only minor internal bleeding.

All the action and knee-jerk reaction might have been centred around London, but in the cutting-edge Portakabin facilities of our regional airports, widespread paranoia coupled with the usual blazing incompetence has done this nation proud once again. Lord, we tried to behave, but giving the local fat, sweaty security guards the slip, we soon found that there really was nothing to stop us from sauntering airside at a notable regional airport to let down the tyres on a Boeing 737 belonging to a charter airline you've never heard of, take a dump in the overhead lockers, or do whatever it is these Haters of our Freedom will do given half a chance. Sprinkle pubic hairs over the First Class headrests, that's what. So we didn't.

That's not going to stop anybody with half a mind to mischief acting a bit out-of-order. We gather the current time-wasting prank is to scrawl "BOMB ON PLANE, LOVE Al KEEDER" on a sick bag, sit back and wait for the ritual running-in-circles. Who knows how the terrorist mind works? They can't be all martyrdom-obsessed maniacs all the time, can they? Even Osama enjoys a good laugh every now and then. He is, after all, an Arsenal fan. It was reported this week by the most reliable sources (so it must be true) that bin Laden hatched a plan to bump off Bobby Brown and claim Whitney Houston as his sex slave, which makes him not all bad in our book. And if there's anything this story proves, even terrorist overlords slip out of the house every now and then and buy Playboy for the thought-provoking articles.

The current luggage restrictions are, indeed, the most fantastic waste of time, and exist only to remind us that It's A Dangerous Old World Full of Terr'ists Out There, Citizen. You can, if you set your mind to it, create what the security forces call a viable incendiary device from the contents of any good Duty Free shop, so why all the buggery with baby milk? By a logical progression in this insane crusade to reduce risk, they'll be drugging all air passengers as they take their seats, as an unconscious terrorist is in no fit state to bomb anything. Beats jet lag, too. Probably.

That approach would almost certainly have put an end to the tabloid-whipped frenzy that culminated in the Monarch Airlines rabble in Malaga coming over all vigilante and having two passengers removed from their flight, the first to be found guilty of the new crime of 'travelling whilst Asian'. An episode reminiscent of the infamous hounding from her home of Dr Yvette Cloete, the Newport-based paediatrician, at the height of the News of the World-inspired paedophile terror. These things, alas, always bring out the stupids, many of whom have jobs as staff writers for the red-tops.

But why bomb planes? The odd lapse notwithstanding, air travel is possibly the most secure environment there is, hence the 7/7 bombers taking their terror to relatively unguarded public transport. The propaganda value of a plane-bombing cannot be underestimated, yet any sprawling international scheme these days is almost certainly, and thankfully, doomed to failure, as recent police successes have shown.

The IRA certainly knew the value of 'spectaculars', yet it was not the end-all of their campaign. They knew the threat of such an act was enough to cause maximum disruption without pissing on their own chips with constant high-profile bombing. You are, as the law of averages demonstrates, more likely to be reamed to death by Jade Goody sporting a strap-on than fall victim to Al-Qaeda. Now *that's* terror, Osama take note.

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