Sunday, 12 July 2009

The terror of improv

There was a time when terrorists planted car bombs or roadside bombs. That was bad enough. My mental picture was of meticulous planning, groups of dedicated fanatics assembling the components, training neophytes, building killing machines, planting them, biding their time, striking when the impact would be the greatest. Dastardly killers. Detailed plans. ‘Connect wire A to terminal T1’ and that sort of thing – one two many S1 screws in the packet, one two few S2s, and an Allen key.

Today, though, it seems we’re facing something far worse. Instead of car or roadside bombs, what we’re up against now is ‘Improvised Explosive Devices’ or IEDs. I find this idea even more chilling. The image it conjures up is of young men of an elite Taliban unit, bored out of their minds somewhere in a desert plain in Afghanistan. They’ve shut the pubs to drive out drink, they’ve shut the discos to wipe out music, and the Regal Cinema in Kandahar never shows anything worth watching. Anyway, it’s 80 miles away, the 84 bus is notoriously unreliable and there’s no way they could be back in camp before lights out.

It’s all looking pretty desperate, to be quite truthful.

Suddenly, one of them jumps up.

‘I know,’ he says, ‘let’s improvise ourselves an explosive device.’

They love the idea and they all gather round, pulling a bit of wire from here, a battery there, a watch to use as a timer, some fertiliser, and all the other bits and pieces they need. Before long they’ve built themselves a vicious little weapon and they can go out to use it against some of our poor unsuspecting squaddies.

It’s rotten, isn’t it? I mean, I felt that taking on those devious planners was bad enough. But if they’re making it up as they go along, what possible chance do we have?

2 comments:

Bob Patterson said...

A ghoulish turn to the phrase "killing time".

David Beeson said...

Perfect use of the expression - brilliant.