Second, a Salon article a argues that the Brits arrest more terrorists because there are more British extremists. I buy this. Now, credit where it is due, Scotland Yard did a great job on this one. But credit should also go to the U.S. Muslim community. That's a big reason I'd oppose profiling based on race and religion rather than say nationality. Harassing a loyal population is at best a waste of resources and at worst perverse.
Although I should also acknowledge that I had made a few assumptions that were proven wrong by this incident. I had thought that now that Al Qaeda's base in Afghanistan was disrupted, they'd be limited to attacking relatively lax countries that hadn't yet been hit (I'm not considering India and Indonesia in this analysis, as I don't know enough about their counterterrorism resources and the groups involved). The complexity of this operation, even though it failed, shows that I'm wrong. Either Al Qaeda doesn't need a full base country, or Pakistan is now serving as that base.
Although, apparently Pakistan cooperated with British investigators so intelligence cooperation with 'base' countries might make a key difference (although I read in the Post that the original tip came from a British Muslim, so Kaplan overplays his argument slightly.
I forget if I've blogged on the semantics already, but I'm going to try to consistently refer to it as the "War on Al Qaeda." I should have started that a long time ago. Wars aren't waged against tactics. They aren't even waged against ideologies. The our enemy in WWII was the Axis, not Fascism. Our enemy in the Cold War was the Soviet Union, not Communism. Why does this semantic distinction matter? Because bad strategy can follow from incorrectly conflating different groups. The classic example is the end of the alliance between Communist China and the Soviet Union.
On that note, here's an articleon the competition between Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. I still disagree with some of the conclusions, but one statement that I disagreed with proved prescient:
Al Qaeda, after all, is unlikely to take a loss of status lying down. Indeed, the rise of Hezbollah makes it all the more likely that Al Qaeda will soon seek to reassert itself through increased attacks on Shiites in Iraq and on Westerners all over the world — whatever it needs to do in order to regain the title of true defender of Islam.
I don't think they're making more attacks than they would otherwise, but I think it's very plausible that they shifted up the timeline to take some of the attention off of Hezbollah.
Finally, sadly the U.S. and Israel stopped efforts on an apparently effective anti-rocket laser system. My office mate actually found a frigging cool video of it in operation.
I really do recommend that video, even if you blow off the rest of the links. Interestingly, giant lasers seem to look mostly like spotlights. That isn't the impression I had gotten from sci-fi where they tend to be more gun-like.
Update: I'm assuming Al Qaeda was behind this one. That hasn't been proven yet. It's a reasonable assumption, but it could turn out to be wrong.