Terrorists are Stupid

I don't even mean that as an invective (this time around), I mean it in a very literal and non-derogative sense. I have had some time to mull over the London bombings, and more than anything else, that is my conclusion.

Truly. A major drug dealer kills more people sheerly incidental to his line of work than these guys managed to with a major bomb strike. Your average chem major could concoct a much more potent explosive (Tim McVeigh wasn't even that) and if they had read a book on explosives, they might have had some modicum of intuition about proper tamping. Heck, two out of eight of the bombs didn't even go off! One of my senior pranks--which involved a kenex set, a wooden box, a cheap motor, a dismantled race car, six lantern batteries, and a firealarm--could have been easily modified to do the job with a 100% success rate. But these bozos can't even get above a D average.

The last major news story I remember reading about a terrorist strike involved the destruction of a flowerpot in front of the New York embassy building. No non-floral causualties. It's positively laughable. Tipped vending machines kill more of us decadent Westerners in a year than Al Qaeda.

Sep. 11th seems to have been Osama's one hit wonder, but even that was mostly thanks to American stupidity (not having armed air marshals) and was overall unimpressive as far as potentialities go. I have been in so many situations where I have seen the potential for an organized group of five people to kill much more than that. In jest, I comment to my friends "Gee, it's a good thing the terrorists are morons, or we'd be in trouble." However, I am more and more convinced whatever schemers were behind the London bombings epitomize the creme-de-la-creme of terrorist intellectuals. That is hardly a complement.

I'm afraid there simply seems to be some severe disjoint between Islamic fundamentalist extremism and personal intelligence. As tempting as it is to be derogatory and say that's because all Islamic fundamentalists are stupid, I think that would not be true at all. In my experience, intelligence has no real impact on producing a coherent belief system. While the ignorant ignore contradictions in their ideologies, the brilliant employ their intelligence to the end of clever rationalizations and so reconcile the contradictions. The mere ability to be highly rational does not dispose a person to be so.

There must be something more simplistic. Perhaps the intelligent are innately too paranoid to loosely discuss their plots with colleagues and so find others to form terrorist cells. Maybe radical Islamists are discouraged against reading 'decadent' western texts such as would otherwise provide valuable instruction. Perchance, there is some other calling which consistently draws away the more intelligent of Islamist fundamentalists.

At any event, I think the media would do better to recognize the terrorists as failure in comparison to what a well-formed enemy could accomplish, rather than portraying each death as a victory for them.