Another airplane has been downed. Background checks on the passenger manifesto will commence. There will be claims of terrorism. Finger pointing. Nationalities scrutinised. Tears shed. Families in anguish. And the world wonders, yet again, how this happened in the first place.
Is terrorism winning?
I’ll admit it. I cancelled a trip to Europe last Christmas after the Paris attacks. We were planning on spending a month away, traveling between France, the UK and Germany. I had always wanted to spend Christmas in Strasbourg, home of the world’s best Christmas Markets. We envisioned spending our nights wandering the lanes of the bustling marketplace, sipping mulled wine, eating pretzels, watching the look of delight on our daughter’s face as she saw stall after stall of traditional wooden Christmas trinkets.
But the minute those Paris attacks happened (and scarily the café that was attacked by one of the gunmen was directly opposite the boutique hotel I had booked) we changed our minds and stayed home.
I may be a hypocrite. We happily head away to Bali each year in July to stay with family. I don’t think of Bali as a place that is unsafe, despite losing friends in the 2002 bombings. In actual fact, we made sure we returned to Bali as quickly as possible after those attacks, knowing that the people of Bali were suffering immeasurably from the lack of tourist dollars as foreigners stayed away in droves. But we know Bali well and we stay away from the tourist areas that are the most likely targets for extremists, so our logic deems us ‘safe’.
But back to the latest plane crash. The flight left from Paris. At this stage, the experts are telling us that the plane spun sharply left, then right, before plunging down. The likely scenario is a struggle in the cockpit over the plane controls is to blame. Or a blast from a bomb inside the plane caused it to swing back and forth.
Will we ever really know?
This latest plane crash raises important questions over the security and safety at France’s largest airport, De Gaulle. How can a bomb or other sort of explosive device, whether worn as a vest or hand-carried onto the plane, still make it through airport security? Surely we have reached a point in our global travel safety measures that make it near on impossible for these devices to make it on board in the first place? Having recently stood in line for two hours at LAX while thousands of us were put through a rigorous screening process to even make it through the first of three security checks, despite the grumbling, we felt confident that passenger safety was paramount. The place was crawling with airport security staff. They all had guns. There were staff scrutinising other security staff. It may have been overkill, but it certainly does a lot to assuage passengers concerned about their safety.
Despite security being ramped up in Europe after the Paris and Belgium attacks, this time, whether through an inside contact at the airport, or the cleverness of the attackers, a device or person with the intention to bring down a plane appears to have succeeded.
The families of the sixty-six people on board, as they struggle to come to terms with the immense loss of their loved ones, will be angry and demand to know how these terrorist groups manage to stay one step ahead of the authorities. As will we.
Are the terrorists winning? At this point, I would venture to say they are.