Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Terrorists are Morons

A friend of mine told me a few years ago that terrorists are morons. I think he was just giving a knee-jerk reaction, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think it's true. Terrorist attacks are so horrible that it's often difficult to see how much worse they could have been. But when you do see this, and see that the only reason they weren't worse is because the terrorists were just mind-numbingly inept, it becomes difficult to ascribe any degree of intelligence to them.

Everyone tells me that 9/11 was an incredibly sophisticated operation, and this shows how organized and intelligent the terrorists were. I remain unimpressed. I mean, if you want to hijack several airplanes, then isn't it kind of obvious that you should do it with planes that are taking off at about the same time? And they didn't even get that right: by the time the fourth plane was hijacked, the passengers had heard about the other three, and were able to thwart the terrorists.

As far as I can tell, the "brilliance" of 9/11 is that they used the planes as missiles and they chose long-distance flights so that the planes would have more jet fuel when they crashed them. I do think those are moderately intelligent insights, but I suspect pretty much anyone who seriously thought about how to do as much damage as possible by hijacking airplanes would come up with something along those lines after a few minutes. It's not like people hadn't thought of using planes this way before (ever hear of kamikazes?). It hardly ranks as "evil genius" territory.

At any rate, this pales in comparison to the dim-witted tiny-brained sheer stupidity that the terrorists exhibited. Probably the most obvious example is thinking that if you kill a bunch of innocent people you'll get on God's good side. That's God "Hi there, I'm the ground of morality" God. Morons.

Another thing: if you're planning to fly the plane into things, maybe the Pentagon wasn't the wisest choice. I mean, first of all, planes tend to fly in the air, and five-story buildings tend to be very close to the ground. In order to crash the plane into it, you're almost certainly going to bump the plane on the ground, which will significantly decrease your forward momentum enough that you'll do much less damage. In order to avoid this, you'd have to be very careful, meaning you'd have to slow down of your own accord ... and do much less damage.

Second of all, crashing a plane into the sturdiest building in the world is going to make you look like an idiot. Especially if you fly it into the one part of the building that had just been reinforced and made especially sturdy -- something you could have discovered with 30 seconds of research. If you fly a 757 into a building, and it makes such a tiny hole that people only slightly smarter than you actually think it must have been made by a much, much smaller object instead (apparently thinking of how, when Wile E. Coyote runs through a wall, he leaves a Wile E. Coyote-shaped hole), you did something wrong. Moreover, and more importantly, because of the recent construction, more than 80% of the people who usually work in that section weren't there. If you're trying to kill as many people as possible, and you crash the plane into the one part of the building that's mostly empty, you just basically announced to the world that you are an absolute and utter moron.

But the twin towers were much worse, right? They killed 2600 people there. That shows that the 9/11 masterminds were intellects of the highest caliber right?

Not so much. The first thing that occurred to me when I saw the news reports about the twin towers was to thank God that the first plane flew into the first building at about 8:45 in the morning. You see, people who aren't morons know that the typical American working day starts at 9:00, and most people don't arrive at work 15 minutes early. At 9:00 or 9:10 there would have been a lot more people there, and if they had just waited until 10:00 or 11:00, there would have been about 30,000 people in the twin towers. But the terrorists gave all of these people a big "Hey, we're about to 'splode some stuff" heads-up by crashing a plane into the first building while most of them were still on their way to work. Most of the people who worked in the first building never went in. Most of the people who worked in the second building didn't go in either because, holy crap, a plane just flew into the building next to the one where I work! They were all standing around outside and saw the second plane crash. I don't mean to make light of this; nearly 3000 people died on 9/11, and that's mind-boggling. But if the terrorists were just trying to do as much damage and kill as many people as they possibly could, they were abject failures because they could have killed ten times that number. The only reason they failed so miserably is because they weren't smart enough to think of some very obvious things that would have occurred to anyone with an IQ higher than their age. They spent years thinking about every last detail, and it never occurred to them to hijack the planes around 10:00 instead of 8:15-8:30 and cause ten times the damage. You know why? Because they were morons.

A final point on 9/11: what do you think the result of such an act would be? If you committed an act of terrorism against a country that has one of the largest and deadliest militaries in human history, wouldn't you think, "You know, killing lots of people we've never even met is cool and all, but we're pretty much guaranteeing that American troops are going to take over our countries. All of our families will have to live in a world with even more American and Western intrusion into our culture than what we're trying to combat here." Of course you would think that. That's called "looking before you leap". Children learn to do that when they're about four years old, after the first few stupid things they do have consequences they didn't intend. But terrorists -- who, again, spent years planning their operation -- didn't think of this. It didn't occur to them that horrifically evil acts would maybe have, oh I don't know, negative consequences. Because they were morons.

Here's another example: the Columbine High School shootings. These two morons made a bunch of bombs and placed them all over the school. The main bomb was in a duffel bag in the cafeteria, and it would have killed the over 500 students that were present at the time it went off. Except, oopsy, it didn't go off. In fact, almost none of the bombs did, and those that did go off only caused property damage.

The morons were waiting outside to shoot their fellow students as they ran away from the carnage. When said carnage failed to materialize, they had to devise a new plan on the spot. Now, if they had thought about it for five seconds, they would have put their guns back in the trunk, gone inside, taken the duffel bag out to their car, and figured out what went wrong. Then they could have replaced it in time to kill plenty of their classmates. But they didn't. They were morons.

OK, so ignore that. Say you just want to kill a buttload of people, and your bomb doesn't go off because you're an idiot. What's the next step? Again, if they had thought about it for five seconds they would have concealed their weapons, casually walked into the cafeteria, stationed themselves at the exits at opposite ends of the room, and then started shooting. Piece of cake.

Except that they were morons. The bomb didn't go off so they started walking towards the cafeteria, and started shooting as soon as they were in range. This resulted in a few people being killed or injured in the courtyard, and the 500 students who were inside the cafeteria running out the other way to safety. Basically, they did the one thing that guaranteed a minimal number of casualties. I don't mean to make light of this either: they killed thirteen people before killing themselves, more were injured, and that's just horrific. But considering that they were planning to kill hundreds and that the only reason they didn't is because they were slack-jawed brain-dead morons, I'm just amazed at how pathetically impotent their shooting spree was.

Do I really need to multiply examples? Isn't it obvious by now? Terrorists. Are. Morons.


Richard Schneider said...

Well then. Thank God for morons.

Unknown said...

There was an article in the NYT today about how terrorist might try using breast implants to conceal bombs.

First thing I thought "Man those idiots have no clue." Let's see, the shoe bomb and the underwear bombs didn't work. Let's try Boobie Bombs!

I'm glad the terrorists are stupid and in love with the suicide bomb/blaze of glory/allah akbar! tactic; because if they ever recruited and smart people history they'd spend more time replicating the Lee Harvey Oswald's, and Beltway Snipers of the world than trying to light their shoes and underwear on fire in the middle of crowded planes.

A "Typhoid Mariam" would spread more fear and panic than any bomb.

A dedicated hacker could do a lot more damage (and spread more terror) by wiping out peoples' bank accounts in the name of Allah than yet another pointless car bomb in Fallujah.

And don't get me started on the miles and miles of unprotected water sources, phone lines, power lines, cell towers, etc.

Yep, be thankful terrorists are idiots.

Noons said...

Well your self promotion post over at Quodlibeta is paying off. I've read a number of your posts, all of which I find interesting, and many with which I disagree.

But either way, on the subject of terrorists and intelligence, I think it is much easier to understand how terrorists think and measure their success in light of their motives. Terrorism is a tactic, meant to bring their struggle directly to the civilian population. So their goal is not so much to maximize the number of casualties, but to send a message. And on 9/11, they sent a message. And even if they hit the part of the pentagon with the fewest people, that's still within a good margin of error considering that the only aircraft they had flown previously were small training planes. If they started diving just a few seconds later, they likely would have hit the middle and caused much more damage.

But the main goal of these attacks is to send a message that they can strike us, that you could be next, and they won't stop until we get out of the middle east and stop supporting Israel. Of course that won't happen, but that doesn't matter when you have a jihad mentality.

I don't know if Al Qaeda expected us to invade Afghanistan following 9/11, but for them that probably isn't a worst-case scenario. Remember, they live and train with people who spent a decade fighting the Soviets, and ultimately won. For them, fighting on their home turf comes down to a contest of who wants to stay there longer. And to them, Afghanistan is home.

Jim S. said...

Well, you're right of course. Terrorism is not an exacting science. As long as you injure one innocent person, you've accomplished your goal, and everything more than that is gravy. And of course, their point is to induce terror and the idea that they can strike us whenever they want. My point in this post is to take away some of their sting. Mocking one's enemies is an age-old strategy, and while I am opposed to it in general, when one's enemy is as blatantly evil as terrorists reveal themselves to be, I think pointing and laughing at them is the much lesser evil than giving them the impression that they are succeeding.

Noons said...

Well I can't argue with that. I'd go further and say that when one's enemies are as evil as terrorists or nazis, and their inherent weaknesses have been revealed, they deserve to be mocked.

But I think "amateur" is a far more fitting description of most terrorists, and the columbine shooters for that matter. After all, suicide bombing is by its very nature an amateur's job.