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Comments

True Tory

would be a great vindication of the right to bear arms. they would be hunted down and shot in most sotherns states before they made the county line.

Tony Makara

Steven Levitt needs to grow up a bit. His comments are juvenile, sensationalist and his flippant mode of writing trivialzes the danger of terrorism.

Ali Gledhill

Many of the people who left comments on the blog thought him irresponsible, however, in feeding enemies of America with ideas.

Of course, the terrorists have been twiddling their thumbs since September 11th, waiting for a newspaper to tell them what they should do next. How absurd. If we cannot speculate about how terrorism will develop, we cannot prepare against it.

Sadly, this suggestion would be impossible to prepare against.

Chris Palmer

If you think back to Ram-Raiding in this country, it first began in Newcastle and was a relatively localised phenomenon. Once it had been aired on national news, ram-raiding suddenly began to happen nationwide.

Of course these suggestions might give the terrorists ideas if any of their links read the article or the information in it is disseminated widely to them. However, on the other hand I suspect that the terrorists had probably come up with ideas like this before anyway.

Jason O'Mahony

Am amazed at the belief that these terrorist scum need to be "fed" ideas off the web, and find that jumping down Levitt's throat about it is the Right's version of political correctness.
We're fighting for freedom here, people, and that includes the freedom to discuss unpalatable "What ifs?" Levitt idea is both disturbing and worth discussion. Imagine, for example, the effect it would have on American Muslim communities.

MikeA

No irresponsible. I work in banking and can think of a number of ways terrorists could with a little knowledge simply cause utter chaos.
I certainly hope the authorities and regulators have planned for them! No way would I publish them on the Internet, surely it's just common sense!

Kevin Sampson

I guess he never heard of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Simon Newman

"terrorists with rifles and cars"

There have been frequent terrorist attacks in the USA using rifles and cars ever since 9/11, most notably the Washington Snipers, but including several attacks at airports, often aimed at Jews and/or Israelis. It's not an effective terror tactic, since the US media and authorities don't treat it as 'real' terrorism but merely as minor unexplained strangeness. I've seen the blogosphere call it 'sudden jihad syndrome'.

Mr Angry

Whlst it is irresponsible to give terrorists ideas for how to go about their evil tasks I very much doubt that any organised Islamist terrorist organisation lacks ideas and plans for inflicting their violent terror upon the west.

However media items such as this may very well give ideas to the lesser strands of terror inclined lunatics of all persuasions and as such Levitt is not doing anyone except for the terrorists a favour here.

Andy

As terrorists don't lack imagination in finding ways to maim and kill, so those diametrically opposite to them should not feel restrained in discussing possible terrorist scenarios. Thats the trouble with governments today - they don't anticipate bugger all.

I'm sure terrorists have thought of this one. I think there would be a reasonable possiblility of intercepting at least a few of them, in the UK there is more CCTV than ever.

As demonstrated in Glasgow recently, Joe Public sometimes fights back. They'd probably get more than they bargained for if they tried this on in some southern hick town!

Mr Angry

Oh and Jason O'Mahoney we all know what the reaction of many, if not most, American Muslims would be to any further terror attack on the USA; the same jubilation and dancing in the streets that was shown on our TV screens from across the Islamic world when 9/11 occurred.

Steevo

I think the author of the article is rather flippant, but there's a lot of that as many enjoy seemingly making lite about the seriousness of life, and death allowing the inference questioning if there is anything worth taking serious. I think his final paragraph to somehow justify his unusual public pursuit, stimulation whatever is kinda lame. I think if a dirty bomb had gone off in Boston a few days ago he wouldn't be writing this and, the NY Times wouldn't allow it. And I think if he ended up a serious consequence of a terrorist act he'd be the last to wanna offer suggestions all in the name of our further enlightenment.

why oh why

What is the point of this thread?

fairdealphil

Has the New York Times lost the plot, or what...?

It wouldn't take much knowledge or resource for one determined terrorist to scare America - or the UK.

But it's just plain crazy to invite bloggers, or anyone else, to publish ideas on how to cause most outrage.

If it's not a criminal offence, it should be.

Yet Another Anon

Detonating dirty bombs above ground level and so spreading radioactivity over quite a wide area - might not need to be planes, in fact hot air balloons would probably be a bigger risk and probably be less likely to be suspected.

Yet Another Anon

The problem with this threat is that it is a how big is up thing, after all if Al Qaeda could form a black hole that would absorb the earth or somehow explode the sun then this would be even bigger than hydrogen bombs.

If they could transform 50%+ of the population to backing Al Qaeda then this would terrify everyone else.

bundyfan

What's sickening is how much people like Levitt relish the thought of an attack. "Oh please! please! let's have another attack so we can discredit Bush!" They would just love that. Traitors.

Machiavelli's Understudy

If it's not a criminal offence, it should be.

Oh, come on... You really are a knob, you know that?

Heaven forbid that the proles should discuss ideas now, eh?

Who gets the right to discuss ideas in your utopia, Phil? Well? The state? Individuals and organisations licenced by the state? Clearly not economists by your standards.

Ideas are how solutions to problems are found, in case that minor characteristic of human nature passed you by.

Naturally, the dependency of people to rely on the likes of you to think for them is in your own self interest, so I suppose you can be forgiven for wanting to suppress free and open debate.

Machiavelli's Understudy

If it's not a criminal offence, it should be.

Oh, come on... You really are a knob, you know that?

Heaven forbid that the proles should discuss ideas now, eh?

Who gets the right to discuss ideas in your utopia, Phil? Well? The state? Individuals and organisations licenced by the state? Clearly not economists by your standards.

Ideas are how solutions to problems are found, in case that minor characteristic of human nature passed you by.

Naturally, the dependency of people to rely on the likes of you to think for them is in your own self interest, so I suppose you can be forgiven for wanting to suppress free and open debate.

Paul Kennedy

Obviously the "silly season" with a shortage of decent articles to publish.

William Norton

Macchiavelli Junior: publishing such material on the internet would be illegal if it amounted to an incitement (I think US and UK law is the same here), or in the UK at least if it amounted to acts preparatory to terrorism or assisting the same (e.g. "A really good way to spread terror would be to park your car behind the warehouse at #### Street, in Boondockville at noon on a Friday because the security guard always takes a long lunch and you can get a good field of fire for the school playground" etc etc.)

I'm not convinced about the mobile snipers idea. Much cleverer would be to plant IEDs at random by the side of the highways and try to pick off a few Greyhound buses or whatever. What do you bet the Green lobby would claim it served the Americans right for being too found of cheap petrol and driving?

Peter Hatchet

This is an interesting thread - potentially.

Trying to anticipate what a terrorist *might* do helps to understand where we could be vulnerable.

Most Islamist terrorists seem rather addicted to the idea of attacking airports/airplanes. If not these, they aspire to "knock down" symbols of "The West". Key public buildings and monuments.

They always like to cause maximum casualities - particularly because they are suicide missions, it must help to justify the "sacrifice".

However, there are many everyday facilities that are quite vulnerable:

Shopping centres - very insecure - I never see any security. Saturday mornings, very crowded. Viable target.

Fast food restaurants - lots of people walk in/out very regularly, from all walks of life. Easier to blend in. Many of the staff will be immigrants. I've never seen any security. "Capitalist" Icon - vulnerable in my opinion.

M25 detonation - bomb blast would be limited as it is "open", but at rush-hour on a Friday night/monday morning, a large bomb in a van in a traffic jam would kill 10-30 people and block the road for hours. It would also disrupt Londons economy and scare many people. Theres no way anyone can check vehicles on a sufficient scale.

Outside London - in general, security is sloppy, apart from on trains/buses. Provincial towns are less secure, less vigilant and much more vulnerable. A strike at tourist hotspots like Bath/Oxford/Stratford could be a tempting target.

I don't want to give terrorists ideas - and I'm not sure how many of these "easy" targets can be protected, unless we go down the road of security scanners *everywhere* as in Israel - but people need to be more viligant in these areas, with (maybe?) a dedicated anti-terror team in every settlement of a significant size (say 75-100,000 people?) in the country.

Andy

Targeting places like fast food outlets, shopping malls and the like ultimately gets the terrorists nowhere. Look at London now that the incident has passed over. Life goes on after the maimings, killings and disruption, the buses and trains are still being used, the "freedom fighters" hated even more intensely.

Like the Irish Republican Army, Islamist Terrorists are naive about what is politically effective. Their grievances, real or imagined, remain unresolved until they grow out of their infantile state and learn to engage in dialogue.

I know one thing - the "matyrs" who committed these atrocities are NOT in paradise! God/Allah is never the author of insolent wrongdoing...

Yet Another Anon

Important to note that different groups of terrorists have different sorts of targets - some may be generally intending to damage a nation, others may be seeking merely to influence opinion, some groups will target groups within a country but not wish to damage a country generally.

So Al Qaeda target city centres and infrastructure; Animal Rights activists target specifically those working for certain companies or expressing a particular view and buildings of certain organisations and products of certain companies.

fairdealphil

Machiavelli:

You are of course free to describe me as a knob for suggesting that publishing ideas for terrorists to achieve maximum damage should be outlawed.

Free speech is crucial to democracy, but can only be achieved by recognising that rights come with responsibilities.

Providing both real terrorists and those of unsound mind with a Top Ten of How to Attack Us is simply bonkers.

In the UK, publishing such a manual of terror would earn a lengthy prison sentence.

Particularly given that the most horrific murderous terror attack was in NY City, I'm gobsmacked that the NY Times did not immediately remove this dangerous nonsense from its website.

i'd rather be a live knob than a dead one.

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