If not for Saudi intelligence, former U.S. homeland security adviser and CNN contributor Fran Townsend said Friday, the packages "would have arrived at these Jewish houses of worship and would have exploded ... (they) could have killed some, maimed others."
British Prime Minister David Cameron, to the contrary, concluded that the bombs were intended to destroy airplanes in route to the United States, not the synagogues.
I agree with Cameron.
Put yourself in a terrorist's place. First, you know when airplanes are airborne. They take off at one hour, land at another. You don't need to know where they are at any particular moment; anywhere over the Atlantic will do.
Second, after the airplanes land, you can't really be sure of the packages' location. Are they sitting on a loading dock? In a warehouse? Customs? A delivery truck? Did some guy steal them and they are in his garage?
Third, you, the terrorist, know this: a synagogue, already nervous and on alert, receives a package from … Yemen containing computer stuff? Come on. Yemen is known for honey, not technology. On top of that, the package arrives on the synagogue doorstep, and nobody has ordered it. Wouldn't the synagogue call the FBI? Conclusion: you know in advance there's a strong likelihood that your bomb will not get past the front door.
Fourth, if you really want a letter bomb to go off in a synagogue, to avoid the difficulties just mentioned, you'd mail it from inside the US. It doesn't make any sense to do otherwise. And so, only if you want your bomb to go off in an airplane do you do otherwise.
Airplanes, not synagogues, then, were the targets. So, why are snyagogues in this picture? Three reasons other than the obvious one:
(1) If you believe, as does al-Qaeda, that Jews rule the Western world, your reasoning is as follows: airport security and customs will be less likely to hold up a package going to a Jewish organization. It will be a "must go" priority; after all, the "boss" is waiting for it.
(2) Second, the synagogues are in Chicago. The president's hometown is Chicago. Somebody in Yemen had a double whammy in mind, which leads to
(3) Albert Camus concluded that rebellion is adolescent. I smell an adolescent, giggle-giggle-tee-hee sense of humor in addressing the bombs to Chicago synagogues -- the same humor al-Qaeda displayed in publishing in its magazine the article "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."
Such teenage wit, incidentally, bubbles up now and then in the lectures of Yemen-based Anwar al-Awlaki, this year's poster boy for a middle class rebel turned terrorist. Clever boy …