The Bos\’un Locker

During times of war and during times of peace, we must prepare for tomorrow with the realities of today.

Terror threat rips away our N. Mich. safety net

Posted by thebosun on August 20, 2006

Courtesy of the Chebouygan Daily Tribune

,  editor of the Cheboygan Daily TribuneIt often seems as if we here in Northern Michigan are insulated from the terrorism that is ravaging much of the world. Perhaps it is our rural remoteness that makes many of us believe that terrorism is some abstract thought reserved for large cities or areas where war is being waged.

After all, we have no World Trade Center buildings in the area. Our largest buildings in downtown Cheboygan rise three or four stories high, at the most. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw isn’t, I would image, a key target of al-Qaida or Hezbollah or any of the other main terrorist cells in the world.

So we become complacent and secure in our little corner of the Lower Peninsula.

Our version of terror, as I see it, is watching from afar as British officials arrest dozens of people who were plotting to make yet another aerial terrorist statement. This time the scenario involved smuggling peroxide-based liquids on flights out of Britain destined for key locations such as New York and Washington, D.C. The suicide bombers on board would detonate their explosives, disguised as a British version of Gatorade, at a pre-set location, perhaps at landing. The ensuing destruction would show that terrorism is alive and well in the world, refuting reports that al-Qaida is all but defunct.

Luckily, British officials managed to infiltrate the group and closely monitored the developments until the arrests were made late last week.

How would that have affected Northern Michigan? Perhaps a few Michiganians would have died in the ensuing explosions and plane crashes. Odds are they wouldn’t be from Cheboygan or the surrounding area, but you never know.

How has the arrests of the plotters and the realization that the air travel industry is still vulnerable to a Sept. 11-type attack changed things here? Plenty.

For starters, you can’t bring most liquids on flights anymore. There are few exceptions, including baby formula. But parents have to drink some of it to show that it is not explosives. You can’t bring much of anything on the plane with you. Checked luggage is the only way to carry liquids and gels on the jet. The ban includes hair gels, perfumes and colognes, and even gel-based shoe cushions.

I think most Americans have come to accept the inconveniences caused by the increased security measures at airports, including Pellston Regional. I sure have. I would gladly stand in line for three hours to have my personal belongings searched to have the peace of mind that the flight I was on would not be subject of a terrorism attack.

But increasing security on flights is just one piece of the terrorism puzzle. The radicals who would die for their misguided causes in the name of terrorism are not rational people. They are ever vigilant in trying to come up with new ways to wreak havoc on America and its allies……..

So let’s not be complacent. We aren’t so insulated from the world. Be alert. Don’t be overly suspicious to anyone who might look different or talk different. That happened after Sept. 11, 2001, and it was a sad commentary on how we look at others up here. After all, this is tourist season, and folks come from all over the world to visit Northern Michigan.

But be safe this coming holiday, and keep an extra sharp eye on your surroundings. Terrorism is closer than we think.

Rich Adams is editor of the Cheboygan Daily Tribune. You can contact him at 627-7144 or via e-mail at radams@cheboygantribune.com

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