Under his breath, Jason Webster recites the Shahadah to himself, again and again, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”
He is approaching the security check point, and he is praying that he can clear it.
He doesn’t need to worry.
Just before entering the airport, Jason Webster had swallowed two latex balloons. Like a drug mule, he was transporting what he needed to hide inside of his body.
Customs might have caught him, airport security doesn’t have a chance.
He places his shoes and laptop bag on the conveyor. He empties his pockets of any metal. And he walks through the detector. No beeps. No attention.
Even if there were profiling, Jason would be missed. Jason Webster is white. He is wealthy. And he’s covered all of his bases. His round-trip ticket has been purchased with a credit card. He has a student visa. He never handled the contents of his latex balloons. His legal name raises no questions whatsoever.
He picks up his bags and walks towards his gate.
His stomach is beginning to hurt, but he puts it out of his mind and casually continues his passage.
“There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” He whispers it under his breath.
Jason Webster is a student. He has received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts – searching for meaning in beauty. He was a good student, but he was disappointed in his search. And so he searched elsewhere. He attended the dry churches of his native London – nothing. He experimented with drugs. He tried sex. But still there was nothing.
And then he found Islam. It started with a local mosque, and there was a taste of what he wanted. There was a taste of greatness in service to Allah. But it wasn’t enough. He wanted total service, without question marks, doubts or room for dissent. Without moderation. And so, before long, he had broken with the congregation and had fallen into a smaller group – a more radical group. They met at a home, and they plotted death. And Jason discovered a way for his life to have meaning.
It started with swallowing two latex balloons.
Boarding comes and Jason breezes through. His papers are in perfect order.
His stomach is bothering him more now. He tries hard not to visibly wince – and he succeeds. He knows what is going on, the balloons are too large to digest. He is prepared for an uncomfortable trip.
The plane pulls back from the gate and with a roar of its engines, it takes to the skies.
Jason closes his eyes and silently recites the Shahadah again and again in his head. He is wearing a headset. He hopes his seat mate will think he is singing a song.
The beverage cart comes and he asks for water.
He checks his watch. It is 12:35pm.
5 more minutes.
He surprises himself. He is totally calm. He knows what he was doing and why. He hates his old world. He hates the weakness. He hates the emptiness. He hates the vanity and the promiscuity and the self-serving ways. He hates the blasphemy.
In the past months, he has learned so much, and he has so much to teach.
And he will teach. He will drive others to meaning.
It is what his service demands.
He opens a small medicine bottle and pulls out 5 capsules of fish oil. He recites, quietly, “Allahu Akbar” and he swallows the pills.
It is done.
He debates telling the pilot what he has done. But the orders are strict. Nobody is to know.
And so he waits.
Inside his stomach, the capsules break down and the oil is released.
In turn, the latex balloons begin to dissolve.
They are two parts of a binary explosive.
Jason Webster closes his eyes.
The explosives mix.
And the airliner splits apart in the sky.
In Washington DC, a TV newscaster is handed a piece of paper. He reads it and nods his head in disbelief. He looks at the off-camera man who handed it to him. Something is said and the newscaster grows pale.
And then, with a studied voice, he announces, “This just in. Seventeen, repeat, seventeen intercontinental airliners from Europe, Asia and North America have disappeared from radar without any indication of their fate. We will provide you more information as soon as soon as it breaks.”
Walls alone can never make us safe.
* The above process of radicalization is loosely guided by the 2007 NYPD Report Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat
* The bomb described will not function. I do, however, invite any would-be terrorists to try it out.