The US Naval Institute’s blog carries a number of fascinating posts—some regard naval history, some regard the nature of 4GW and the OODA loop. And then, we have some which primarily regard the use of what the authors refer to as “butt bombs”.
A little background: A recent al Qaeda plot involved the attempted suicide bombing of Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism minister. The attacker hid the explosives not in a suicide vest, but rather, as some news sources refer to it, in his “anal cavity”. The attack was ultimately unsuccessful; with the attacker eliminating himself from the gene pool after a fellow al Qaeda operative sent him a text message, detonating the cell phone-triggered explosives, and left the counter-terrorism minister shaken, but not stirred. Al Qaeda must be running out of ideas—this was used in the last Batman movie, The Dark Knight—only without the bomb in someone’s ass. The Joker, as you will recall, detonates a bomb hidden inside someone’s chest cavity after being granted his phone call, facilitating his escape. (The guys at Defense and the National Interest have a great analysis of that movie’s application to 4GW.)
When we first heard about this, we responded with raucous laughter, and we even made a little song about the event. Seriously, the lyrics were “Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick/I wanna take a ride on a dynamite stick”. Okay, it’s not exactly that original, sue me.
Anyway, the USNI quotes Dr. Mike Waller of politicalwarfare.org on the potential IO spin we could potentially put on al Qaeda’s use of anal explosives:
Al Qaeda has flummoxed security experts with its new tactic of evading detection systems by hiding explosives and detonators inside the bodies of suicide bombers.
The method redefines what it is to be an “assassin.”
The new trick came to light last month in a Saudi palace when an Al Qaeda operative, claiming to want to surrender, exploded in a failed attempt to murder the Saudi prince in charge of counterterrorism operations. The terrorist stuffed a pound of explosives and a detonator up his behind (or perhaps one of his buddies did it for him) in order to foil bomb detectors.
What I’m about to propose is gross and disgusting and downright insensitive. But it’s culturally appropriate. And it’s a quick, inexpensive way to see if we can damage terrorist recruitment and neutralize this new and dangerous Al Qaeda murder tactic. So here goes.
Rather than get alarmed about lacking the technical means to detect such bomb smugglers, we should use Arab and Islamic (and generally universal, lowbrow, adolescent) cultural traits to make terrorists too ashamed and embarrassed to turn their bottoms into bombs. And to humiliate their supporters.
This tactic is begging for ridicule. Terrorists hate being ridiculed. Sexually repressed young men hate being ridiculed. Islamist extremists hate being ridiculed. Mockery stains their honor. Most terrorists are sexually repressed Islamist extremist young men.
Therefore, it’s time for the US and its allies, as well as the Saudis, to turn on the laughs by making fun of the butt-bombers. We can all think of ways to ridicule these weirdos in English – oh, the metaphors are just too plentiful and too crude to list here – and the Arabic language is likewise awash in backdoor humor. To say nothing of Pashto.
It does make for an interesting IO spin, to be certain. There’s nothing like ridiculing your enemies’ gross incompetence and maybe even nominating them for a Darwin Award—particularly when it involves something that’s so comically sexually humiliating. But is the author over-estimating the level of embarrassment involved by playing up the gay angle? After the collapse of the Taliban, the custom among Afghan warlords to have a young boy in their service commenced again. Indeed, I believe it was Peter Bergen who reported that, during the Afghan Civil War, two warlords fought a battle with tanks over who had the rights to a young boy. The custom seems to have mixed favor throughout the Muslim world, with nations such as Iran out-right banning gays, on one hand. On the other hand, T.E. Lawrence reported that the Hejaz chapter of MEMBLA seemed to be alive and well among some Bedouins, at least during World War One.
Nevertheless, relentless ridicule is a simple, effective way to de-legitimize al Qaeda, especially when combined with their ever-increasing unpopularity as a result of the massive collateral damage they create.
Focus: Create your own IO spin on the AnalBomber. Do it for NATO.