ISIS: PRANKS, RUSES AND THE COST OF TERRORISM

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By Al Emid Author Journalist Broadcaster
Chapter 40
The Glamorous Life of an Author

During this past weekend when much network attention focused on the record snowfalls in the United States, at least one incident illustrated both the severity of the terrorist threats and the severity of hoaxes and ruses. Even when something looks like a prank or ruse, authorities know that they have to treat it seriously.

Not surprisingly, Turkish Airlines has suffered several hoaxes in recent months. Most recently, a flight from Houston, Texas, diverted to Shannon, Ireland, on Sunday when a piece of paper with just the word ‘bomb’ written on it was found in the toilet, according to a Reuters report.

Airline staff and investigators found no explosive devices on board and the airplane flew on to Istanbul. At time of writing the Irish police have started an investigation.

According to Reuters, Turkish Airlines has been targeted with a series of hoax bomb warnings over the last year. Last November one of its airplanes diverted to Halifax while en route to Istanbul after a phony bomb threat.

The weekend hoax renews two questions, both of them serious.

How many such incidents are the work of pranksters of limited conscience and mental acuity who delight in seeing their work cause problems, costs and anguish and splashed across the headlines? I am reminded of the report in January 2015 in the Orange County Register. A hacker group identifying itself as Team System DZ hacked the site of a local non-profit group called Giving Children Hope whose mandate involved shipping food and medicines to children in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. At the time of the hacking it erected its own screen proclaiming ‘i Love ISIS’, including the faulty typography.

It appears doubtful that ISIS would bother hacking the web site of a non-threatening charitable organization in a small town in California.

One has to wonder about the mental balance of individuals who would invoke the name of ISIS as part of a prank.

Alternatively, is this another ruse, to check vigilance and reaction of authorities?

We may never know the answers to these two questions but we do know that these incidents increase both the emotional and financial cost of terrorism and when they involve airlines cause many to reconsider travel plans.

Following almost a year of research, Al Emid’s fifth book entitled What You Need to Know About ISIS – Terror, Religion, War and the Caliphate and set for release by Quidne Press in Spring goes behind the news about ISIS and examines what might lie ahead.

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