Terrorism can happen anywhere and there is little we are able or perhaps better said, willing to do about it.
The Manchester attack underscores that front-line security has its limits and that a determined terrorist can usually succeed, because the soft underbelly of society can never be protected.
While fans need to pass through a metal detector and perhaps a search in order to get in, the bottleneck outside the building created by this security check is a target waiting to be attacked. How hard would it be for a terrorist to wade into this crowd and blow up a suicide vest.?
How many would die and how many fans would be injured?
It's not something we like to think about and so we try to block it out of our mind.
Paradoxically the panicked fans fleeing the Manchester Arena in the wake of the bomb were safer inside the building than outside and therein lies the problem, you can't have security everywhere and it's pretty easy to figure out where and when the public is vulnerable.
The authorities are quick to label that these attacks are committed by lone wolves, impossible to trace, but the reality is that nobody lives in a vacuum and those around the terrorist are usually pretty aware of the danger he poses.
The Manchester bomber has already been identified as a radicalized Muslim and had displayed dangerous behavior that had those around him concerned. The imam of the mosque where the terrorist attended was fearful for his life after giving a sermon condemning ISIS.
Why didn't anyone drop a dime?
At any rate western society is doomed to repeat this cycle of terrorism because we are not willing to sacrifice civil liberties in order to root out potential terrorists.
In Canada we haven't had a real terrorist attack, just a couple of nut jobs that inflicted very limited damage in the name of Allah. I say 'limited damage' with respect to the dead, whose families don't see the attack as something minor.
So we are all for liberty and civil rights and for personal freedom from surveillance, that is until a serious terrorist attack happens here.
I wonder what a similar attack on a major Canadian arena with multiple deaths of children would have on that perception.
Here is a hypothetical story of counter-terrorism that is a test of one's real values.
A group of three terrorists are caught but others in the cell got away and have planted a massive car bomb somewhere in the city.
The interrogator fruitlessly tries to get the terrorists to confess but with time running out and torture not an option because of the time constraint, the police officer pulls his gun out of his holster and tells the terrorists that if they don't reveal the location, he will shoot them one by one and bury the remains in a pig sty, thus blocking any perceived ascent to Heaven.
The terrorists remain silent and so the officer places the gun to the temple of the first terrorist and counts down from three, shooting dead the terrorist in front of the others
He then moves on to the second and tells the trembling terrorist he is next. The terrorist hesitates and the policeman pulls the trigger.
The third terrorist confesses and the police clear the square where the bomb would have certainly killed and maimed hundreds.
And so gentle reader, my question to you. Did the ends justify the means?
Here is a clip from the Untouchables where Sean Connery's character takes matters into his own hands in interrogating a crook.
And yes, unbeknownst to all, the 'victim' was already dead.
BTW...Gotta love the Mountie's reaction.