The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 10, 2012

Cracking down on TNT in the BVDs

By Adam Smith
adam@athensnews-courier.com

— Kudos to U.S. intelligence officials this week after they reportedly foiled a terror threat to a plane bound for the U.S.

The explosive device, which apparently slipped past a security checkpoint, is currently being studied by officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Early reports, however, said it was yet another “underwear bombing” attempt.

In case you’ve forgotten, a Nigerian Islamist by the name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (say that 10 times really fast) tried to detonate a bomb in his underwear on Christmas Day 2009. For his troubles, he was detained by authorities and treated for serious burns to his hands, inner thigh and genitalia.

There’s nothing funny about extremists who want to kill Americans, but extremists who burn up their privates in a failed attempt is actually pretty humorous.

I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall when these underwear bomb schemes were hatched by operatives in al-Qaida. First of all, who really thinks about hiding a bomb in their underwear? Secondly, wouldn’t something about such a device cause the bomber to walk funny?

Perhaps, in the training process, prospective underwear bombers practiced walking around with a bomb in their underwear.

“OK, try walking normally. Now, once more with a feeling. When you hit your mark, sachet and turn. Very good. Next!”

Before they could practice, however, someone had to be chosen to carry the TNT in his BVDs. Who drew the short straw for that?

If I were a terrorist, and let me explain that I’ve never terrorized anything but mosquitoes, fleas and flies, there’s no way I’d willingly set fire to my privates, no matter how great the cause might be. If I drew the short straw, I’d either negotiate a trade with one of my fellow terrorists (“See? My straw is longer than yours!”) or I’d be sneaking away from the terror encampment in the dead of night.

I know there’s been a lot of negative criticism of the folks who screen passengers at the airports, but personally, I’d like to know if I’m sitting next to an underwear bomber. Then again, I don’t fly — ever — because I don’t ride in anything more than four feet off the ground.

My wife gives me a hard time because my fear of flying really reduces the amount of feasible vacation locales. I really blame my fear of flying on Sept. 11, sadly, as I watched news replays of those planes fly into the World Trade Center too many times that day. The thought of being a passenger on one of those jetliners and being powerless really disturbed me.

I’ve told several people I’d rather jump out of a plane with a parachute than ride on one. Of course, I’d have to also pack my own parachute prior to the free-fall, just to make myself feel better about the chances of it opening.

The cases of people with bombs in their underwear just reinforces my fear of flying. There was also the guy who tried to blow up a plane using a shoe bomb. Once again, not a bright idea in my opinion.

I’ll just continue to roll through life in my sub-compact vehicle and never worry about such nonsense. I don’t pick up hitchhikers, and I’m pretty sure I don’t need to worry if those who ride with me have sticks of dynamite between their legs.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep my eyes open for anyone with suspicious looking hip bulges or fuses running out of their pockets. I guess you never can tell when the fruits of the loom can go bad, or in this case, BAM!