The media is reporting the Christmas Day terrorist attack by a Nigerian with links to al-Qaeda in Yemen on board a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit as an “attempted” or “failed” attack. The Obama Administration has also used similar language. Some in the media have even called it a “foiled” attack. However, the incident was a successful terrorist attack.
Although the attack did not succeed in destroying or crashing the aircraft, the explosive device did detonate and burn, which caused injuries and a fire which had to be extinguished. The fire caused some damage to the airplane. Therefore, the attack was not an “attempt,” because it was carried out and even caused injuries and damage, regardless of whether the terrorists fell short of accomplishing their goal of destroying the plane. In other words, the attack was an attempt to destroy the plane, but not an attempted attack.
Moreover, as I have noted in earlier posts, the purpose of terrorism is to intimidate the populace into giving into the demands of the terrorists. The Christmas Day attack succeeded in terrorizing not only the innocent civilians aboard the airplane, but the general public, as well. In other words, although the incident was not successful in destroying the airplane, it was nonetheless a successful attack. Thus, the incident meets the definition of a terrorist attack, not an attempted, failed or foiled attack.
In addition to undermining confidence further in both the media and the Obama Administration, the mislabeling of this terrorist attack as something less than what it was minimizes its significance, which is that al-Qaeda and other militant Muslims remain determined and capable of carrying out their strategy of terrorism, which the West ignores at its peril.