Why Didn't He Just Blow Himself Up In The Toilet?

A reader asks a very interesting question about the undie-bomber - why did he get back into his seat to detonate a bomb that had a ramshackle detonator and where he could be overcome by fellow travelers? Read the whole email:

I keep hearing this even described as a failed terrorist attack on an airplane.  But was it really?  I keep hearing about how the system failed, but did it really?  Think about it.  First, what is the major goal of terrorism?  It is not to bring down airplanes.  It is not to destroy the West.  It is, pure and simple, to create terror in people.  Why?  Because when people are afraid they overreact.  And this includes most of us, yourself included.

If the intent of al Qaeda in this latest instance was to bring down an airplane, then it failed.  But if its intent was to create fear and overreaction, then it succeeded  Personally, I think it was the latter.  It is quite possible (in fact I think probable) that the people who planned this event, and used the young man from Nigeria as a tool, were aware that due to security measures in place, there was no way they could actually get a bomb through that would actually work.  The detonation equipment needed would have been detected.  The same applies, by the way, to the shoe bomber.

Again, think about it.  If you wanted to blow up a plane, would you attempt it from your seat, where somebody could quite possibly stop you?  No, you would go to the washroom where you could set off the bomb without disruption. 

Of course, if it failed to go off, then people wouldn't necessarily know what you were trying to do.  Therefore you have to make sure it is one in the open, or the very failure is perceived as a terrorist attack.  The fear result is the same whether or not the bomb goes off.

In addition to the torture lovers advocating a return to waterboarding, the administration sets up more stringent guidelines for air travel (most of which are unlikely to be effective at all) and other people call for the resignation of the head of DHS.  In other words, the response is what al Qaeda and other terrorist groups want.

Al Qaeda has lost a lot of its prestige and influence in the Muslim world.  They need something to get it back.  How better than to do something that creates a reaction on the part of the US or Great Britain that shows just how bad we are and how we are so anti-Islam.  After 9/11, recruiting by al Qaeda suffered until we invaded Iraq.  That alone increased recruitment.  Then when our torture policies became evident, it increased more.  Lately, however, it has declined again.  If we as a nation respond poorly to this "successful" attack, then they will achieve all their goals.