The recent Times Square bombing attempt, and the police reaction a few days later when a cooler and then a shopping bag were left unattended in the Square brought new worry to Americans. While they tell us that the more stringent security methods employed at airports makes an attack on the level of 9-11 almost an impossibility, the danger now comes more from the lone terrorist, possibly operating without any direction from groups like Al-Qaida.
Like the underwear bomber, the Times Square bomber fortunately failed more due to a crude attempt than due to security screening that picked up any danger. It did seem that air security was getting lax, until Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab attempted to set fire to bombs in his skivvies on Christmas Day (resulting only in unfortunate second degree burns to his private parts– hey, it could have been worse). It was rapidly beefed up, as travelers have experienced over the last couple of months.
But how do you really protect against bombs crudely put together in a neighbourhood garage, driven on normal streets to populated places and then set off? Largely, other than by attempting to monitor the ingredient purchases, you can’t.