Friday, May 19, 2006

Airbound Disaster Avoided - For Now

Today an undercover Swiss agent, who had infiltrated an Arabic terrorist cell in Europe, uncovered a plot to shoot down an Israeli El Al plan with a rocket propelled grenade, a shoulder-mounted missile purchased in Russia and smuggled back to Geneva. Until further notice, all planes heading from Israel to Geneva will be rerouted to Zurich.

The plot was foiled simply because the terrorists bragged about their Russia purchase; otherwise, there is no indication that this plot would have been picked up before it was executed.  There have been no arrests, as the plane was never shot down.  

Many Israeli planes contain the Flight Guard Self Protection System which is supposed to detect the missile, alert the crew, and launch countermeasures.  But at a price of $1M per plane, El Al is gradually installing them in more and more planes.  Still, even at that price the cost is cheap compared to the cost in human life and funds of a tragedy.

It seems like, if the terrorist group had not been so boisterous about their purchase, we would never have caught this group before they shot down a plane. To me, this is a clear indication of the value of good intelligence, and shows why intelligence is the only viable defense against terrorist actions.

Who knows if the targeted plane would have had Flight Guard, or it Flight Guard would have helped them avoid getting blown out of the sky. But clearly, the undercover agent was effective in, at least for now, avoiding this tragedy.  Good show!

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Posted by Scottage at 12:22 PM / | |