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They Didn't All Know They Were Islamakazis

According to reports, the latest bin Laden tape indicates that not all of the hijackers understood the mission (or perhaps they were too dim to understand that driving their airplane into a skyscraper would kill them, too). What this indicates is that bin Laden couldn't come up with the dozens of suicidal people necessary to carry out the attacks on September 11. He had to convince most of them that they were hijacking the plane for some other purpose, and only the pilots themselves knew the true mission.

If true, this gives me a little solace. It also lowers my opinion of bin Laden even further, a feat I would heretofore have thought impossible. He didn't even care about his own people. One wonders whether this will have any effect on future recruiting, assuming he survives his current "Where's Waldo" escapades.

I have always been somewhat sanguine about our prospects for being damaged by terrorists, because of the thought that the combination of both evil intent and competence to carry it out is rare. There is a large supply of people willing to kill themselves or others for (fill-in-the-blank), particularly in Arabia, but the intersection of that set with people who can fly airplanes, set ordnance, design bombs, breed smallpox, etc., is small. This will hopefully remain true as truly terrifying technology comes along in the future.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 10, 2001 11:21 AM
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