One of the downsides of the West learning how to fight Al Qaeda and other
Islamist terror groups and sympathizers is that we don't always take the
successes and broken-up plots as seriously as we should. Case in point: the
astonishing yet predictable plot to kill thousands at a Manchester
United-Manchester football match in Great Britain. (Alternative site)
The terrorists planned to blow themselves up inside the stadium, which holds
67,500. They arrested 10 people, and if they all planned to participate,
then thousands could have died.
This sets off alarm bells for us because we have marveled - and also felt
quite uneasy - at how relaxed things are at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
There are periodically some security efforts at Cameron - purses and bags
were checked in the wake of 9/11 and so forth - but generally speaking, this
particular operation could certainly take place at Cameron, and though the gym
doesn't hold the appeal of such a large audience, the very fact that it is a
small building would raise the kill ratio, and quite possibly the appeal of such
a barbaric move.
Duke's standing as perhaps the premiere basketball program in the nation, in
combination with the lack of security, could also possibly add to the appeal. The
fact that Duke traditionally has a number of Jewish students might also factor
in to such thinking.
We're not suggesting that Duke freak out and pat us all down when we go in,
but if the plot could be hatched in Great Britain, surely it could be hatched
here as well. It might be that such a move would be aimed at our neighbors
in Chapel Hill, too, given the vast size of that arena and the higher kill rates
possible, or Rupp Arena or the Carrier Dome too, for that matter.
Needless to say, we wouldn't wish this on anyone, least of all our friends in
Chapel Hill. The rivalry is fun and all that, and it's fun to pull for the
Russians before the Heels, but the reality is that many of us have what we in
these parts call mixed marriages, and relatives who are as passionate about UNC
as we are about Duke. Something like that happening in Chapel Hill or
Raleigh would devastate Durham just as much, and it's true the other way, too.
We do hope that someone at Duke is seeing this story and that some alarm
bells have gone off there.
On a bright note, a new invention we saw on television promises to make
suicide bombing, as we currently understand it, a great deal more difficult. We
didn't see enough of the story to tell you how it worked, but a new device is
ready for use, which detects weapons under clothing. The samples we saw
detected a pistol and a suicide vest. The man who was discussing the
device said that it could be put into places like trash cans, where it is
unlikely to be noticed, and works at a distance of 150 feet. It looks like
a great advance, and something we hope is in widespread use at public venues
very soon. Certainly we hope Duke investigates it and considers it for use
at public events, particularly basketball games.
But even if they don't, this plot should serve as a dramatic wake-up call for
U.S. sports events and venues: you may well be in their plans, and you need to
prepare yourself accordingly. Fans should be put on notice as well.