Michael Clarke in the Times tries to carry forward the mildly interesting but fundamentally silly idea of a love affair between Islamist terrorists and aircraft:
Commercial aircraft represent globalism and high technology — they shrink the world and threaten cultural conservatism. The Boeing 747 was the last of the “great machines” that characterised the 20th century: it opened up air travel to the mass market.
Well, when has bin Laden ever said anything against aircraft of any type? He’s normally pretty clear about his likes and dislikes. And it’s not clear to me that he’s opposed to globalization. Surely his whole point is to break up existing nations into a vast world community, with us giving him a considerable amount of help with the first part of the equation. And the psychoanalyzing doesn’t really fit either. Bin Ladenism is a pretty straightforward doctrine. This is wrong. If you do it, I’ll kill you.
The attraction of aircraft to the stylish terrorist is, I suspect, for similarly banal reasons. They’re force multipliers. The bomb that the terrorist carries onto the plane is better thought of as the detonator. It’s the plane that’s the bomb, except when it’s flown into something, when it’s a missile. And then you have the kind of knock on effects on general aviation we’re still seeing now.
There might be what you’d call a second album problem at work. How do you top 9/11? You don’t want people to think you’re not on top of your game any more. So you plan something even more spectacular requiring the kind of big, unwieldy network of plotting that is much more likely to be unraveled, especially as the intelligence services have something of this kind very much in mind themselves. The terrorist death march as John Robb calls it. This might be the story behind what happened last week, or at least part of it. The wider point is that to the extent that this mentality takes hold it tends to make terrorism less of a threat over time. You gotta keep it real, fellas.