Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

I'm a terrorist (and so are you!)

Today on HN someone posted this link:


About an English man that got himself arrested for - get this - a tweet.

It’s gotten to the point where you can apparently spend a night in the slammer for tweeting about stuff.

If that isn’t a sign that ‘the terrorists have won’ then I don’t know what is.

What’s next ? Thinking ? Writing ?

So, here I’m going to have to confess… I’m a terrorist too.

I’ve fantasized about bringing down society, and how easy it would be (the ‘real’ terrorists strike me as incompetent and bumbling fools).

As a terrorist I would murder unsuspecting civilians by the thousands.

I would foment civil unrest on a scale that would make other acts of terror seem like a walk in the park.

And it wouldn’t take a big budget or a serious religious conviction either.

Just a solid dose of fantasy coupled with some practical engineering knowledge.

Such as, but not limited to:

  • Remote controlled airplanes loaded with explosives along the routes of heads of state. So much more convenient than lying in wait with a sniper gun and all that. Much more likely to succeed too, given the fact that if you fail you can try again because you can launch a bunch of them without ever being in view yourself (video camera under your little remote controlled bomb).
  • Unbolt the bases of power lines and wait for the next storm to take them down. How long could a bunch of big cities do without power?
  • undo the locking bolts of the steering racks on trucks they’ll be fine for a while, then after a day or a week, suddenly a wheel takes a left
  • poison the watersupply of a large city with something that has an incubation time in the weeks.
  • And so on. Not to give people ideas, but terrorism, let’s face it, is easy.

    Destruction on any scale was always easier than construction on that same scale, that’s why idiots can break windows but hardly anybody can make a nice, flat piece of glass and even if they were handed the glass they wouldn’t know how to cut it to shape and set it.

    The problem with all of the above, and with saying ‘I’m going to blow up this airport’ is that it simply isn’t going to happen. For the most part the terrorists don’t care about simply killing people, they want to do it in a way that turns it in to a media moment, because that way they get to multiply the effect of their disgusting activities.

    The media are simply the magnifying lens that we give terrorists in order to scare us that much better.

    Terrorism, even today is a very rare act. The chances of you being involved directly or indirectly in some act of terrorism are vanishingly small. More people are killed by Hippos (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_are_killed_by_hippos_each_day)) each day than there are people killed by terrorists. 12,000 Hippo related deaths each year, maybe we should start a war on Hippos?

    And people, on the whole say lots of stupid stuff, in jest, or maybe even because they are pissed off. That doesn’t make them any more a terrorist than I am (or you are, I’m sure you must have at least once thought ‘I’m going to kill the bastard, maybe you even envisioned it, or said it).

    Saying or even thinking stuff like this is a safety valve. Barking dogs do not bite. At least, most of the time.

    People need those safety valves, lest the steam builds up enough of a head that they will actually act on their frustrations.

    By chasing down obviously nonsense leads, this will not only waste valuable time, resources and money, it will also give the real terrorists the opening they need to slip through.

    All this guy needed was someone asking him: “Hey, you were just joking weren’t you?”, instead of being arrested. After all the chances of it being a silly thing said on the spur of the moment so far outweigh the chances of it being a real threat that it seems like there is a serious shortage of real intelligence to be acted upon.

    The last thing a terrorist will do is announce his intentions before they act, the first thing you know about it is when that bomb goes off, the plane goes down or when you wonder why the train doesn’t slow down this close to a head-station.

    We all need to relax a little.

    Yes, we’re going to die. You too. But more than likely not definitely not at the hands of some guy who has been brainwashed in to thinking he is furthering some fanatic religious agenda by murdering himself and a bunch of innocents.

    So let’s not go and change the world too much to accommodate those who seem to be able to get huge amounts of money out of our collective fear of dying. That includes media companies, the people that sell ‘security gear’ and the politicians capitalizing on all this.

    We deserve the society that we create, a society based on fear is just another way to spell ‘Afghanistan’.

    Let’s focus on the really important threats in life, like Hippos.