Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shadow of Global Terrorism Looms in Singapore

The shocking news of an unsuccessful terrorist attack on board of a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day that took place toward the end of the first decade of the 21st century seems to have awakened the world of the unbearable memory of the 9/11 terrorist attack at the beginning of this century. To a certain degree, the most recent unsuccessful plane attack incident has served to remain people who live in peace and work happily in this region that the ghost of terrorism is, in fact, not that imaginably far away from our daily life.

Major Violent Terrorist Attacks After 9/11
The 9/11 terrorist attacks had led the United States into utter chaotic and panicky situation. The attacks subsequently led to the war in Afghanistan and the US military invasion of Iraq. "Counter-terrorism" has become the most popular term in world news; and in the days that followed, the terrorist attacks on innocent civilians have also become more and more frequent.
In the past 10 years, major violent terrorist attacks after the 9/11 incident included the following: the 12 October 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia; the 11 March 2004 subway bombings in Madrid, Spain; the 7 July 2005 London subway and bus bombings; the 11 July 2006 train bombings in Mumbai, India. Moreover, the 26 November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai hotels also witnessed the terrorists carrying out an act of atrocities killing innocent people trapped in hotels. On 17 July this year, two international hotels in Jakarta also suffered from terrorist bomb explosions.

Changed Strategy of Terrorists
If we trace the global terrorist attack history in the past 10 years, we can observe that after international airlines and international airports began to strengthen security control at airports after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the global terrorists have also found it difficult to repeat their old tricks to plant explosives on airplanes or to hijack airplanes for terrorist activities. Therefore, it has become more logical for the global terrorists to turn their target of attacks at public transportation systems include the subways and buses or in planting explosives in crowded places.
The purpose of the terrorists is to create media headlines and to cause major bloodshed. However, the unsuccessful attempt of terrorist attack on the US airplane on Christmas Day has revealed the reality that the global terrorists have not given up any opportunities to play their old tricks either. Moreover, we also have to bear in mind that the skills used by the global terrorists to hit at their targets have also become more and more sophisticated or becoming more and more difficult for the security authority to detect.
From the already published details of the foiled Northwest Airline terrorist attack, we understand that the terrorist who tried to blow the plane is a Nigerian. He managed to pass through the security check at the Amsterdam Airport. He also managed to carry explosives on board the US airplane. According to information from the Amsterdam Airport, this airport has carried out its security arrangements in accordance with normal procedures. Obviously, after a long period of observing and testing at the Amsterdam Airport, the terrorists must have already found loopholes in the existing airport security procedures at the Amsterdam Airport to allow them to bring on board the plane the dangerous items they can use to assembly as explosive. As quoted by a passenger on the same Northwest Airline flight, when the terrorist tried to detonate the explosives, he heard some dull sound similar to firecrackers. He also saw smoke coming out from the place where the terrorist was seated. It was most fortunately that the passengers sitting near the Nigerian terrorist managed to pin him down to avoid an airplane disaster.
After this Northwest airplane incident, we trust all international airports and airlines around the world will further strengthen their security measures. Although this will certainly result in more inconvenience to airline passengers, if we take into account the imminent and real danger of terrorist attacks, we have to accept such tight security airport and airline rules without any choice.

Targeting Singapore
Singapore is a cosmopolitan city. It is also an important international air transportation hub. The attempted terrorist attack on an US aircraft on Christmas Day has once again reminded the importance for all Singaporeans to take necessary precautions to ward off possible terrorist attacks and to think about the danger of terrorism, while we are still enjoying our peaceful vicinity. Moreover, Southeast Asia is also an active beehive of terrorist activities.
The bomb explosions in Bali and in Jakarta are only a close distance away from Singapore. The bomb explosions in Mumbai and the killing of hostages by senseless terrorists in the Mumbai hotels have caused the death of one Singaporean who was there on an official assignment. Facing the possible threat of terrorism, Singaporeans cannot afford to have any room to think that their country is the lucky one that can be exempted from being attacked by terrorists.

Tough Time Ahead
Beyond Singapore's international airport, the public transportation system in Singapore remains as possible terrorist target. After Singapore's Internal Security Bureau arrested the first batch of the Jemmiah Islammiah (JI) members in December 2001, the government managed to expose the JI terrorist network' conspiracy to attack Singapore's basic infrastructure, including the subway station and other important facilities. All these plots by terrorists have clearly shown that Singapore cannot be immune from global terrorism threat. Although Singaporeans can still use the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) subway safely as the main daily public transportation, the foiled terrorist attack on board of the Northwest Airline flight lane on Christmas Day has again reminded and alerted us that we should not take the safety of our everyday life for granted.
Of course, in our normal vigilance of public safety, there is no need for Singaporeans to have a feeling of unnecessary fear or terrorist threat on our life. Although the threat of terrorism seems a distant away from us, terrorist threat can also be very close to us. The only assurance citizens should learn to adopt is that for quite a long time in the future, we all have to learn to live our a normal life with the ghost of terrorism looming over our sky.

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