Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bombers Intent Confirmed - They Meant to Kill

I received the following Yahoo! News alert remarking on the purpose of the bombs that went off in the London subway today:
LONDON (AP) The London police commissioner says the intention of Thursday's attacks must have been to kill.
This was not understood? I'm not aware of bombs being set up to tickle, annoy, or disturb sleep. All bombs are designed to kill, regardless of the intentions of the bomber, regardless of the bomber's skill or their terrorism-planning ability. The fact or the presumption that the bomber did not intend to kill is irrelevant. The act of making a bomb, setting it up in public, and letting it explode means the intent was to kill.

If you commit a criminal act and if the potential for a loss of life exists, you intended to kill. This should be the default.


Lord Kitchener's Own said...

You're absolutley correct that the intentions of terrorists when they set up bombs is reasonably obvious (and immaterial anyway) but I don't think the story was as completely strange as you suggest.

With the early reports of "minor" explosions, and suggestions that at many of the sites of the "incidents" there were no explosions at all, it at first appeared that this attack was primarily designed to strike fear through loud noises and disruption, as opposed to mass casualties. It seems now however that police have determined that these weren't all necessarily small devices set off properly, but larger and more dangerous devices set off incompetently. I think that is what this story was meant to convey. The terrorists didn't mean to just make some noise and cause general panic... they meant to cause casualties on a scale similar to 7/7, and they failed. It would have been more accurate to say that they intended to inflict "mass casualties" rather than just saying they intended to "kill", but I think the article is mostly meant to portray the intended EXTENT of the bombings not the intended PURPOSE of them. And I think everyone knows that if you engage in an illegal activity such as this and wound or kill people, you will be held responsible for the results, regardless of your "intent".

I'm not sure if it's comforting that they failed, or disturbing that this was another attempt at a major attack, but I think that the fact that the later was the intention is the point the article is trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to get across. But given the chaotic and conflicting reports during times like today, I can see how reporters and writers (and police officials) might not convey their intended meaning as clearly as they could, when speaking on the fly, and in the middle of the attacks, with perhaps quite limited hard information. It must be difficult to cover such an event. I remember first hearing about the 300 people killed on 7/7, and if mistakes in reporting like that can happen, I can see how a confusing, and annoying phrase like "the bombers intended to kill" could be uttered in a attempt to add some greater context to an evolving situation.

Jim said...

You're point is valid that the attempt was to convey the extent and not necessarily the purpose.

Where it got me all bothered was the implication that up until this statement, we we're somehow giving the perpetrators some benefit of the doubt.

That is, when they set up the bombs, we're assuming that they were just there to cause a little non-lethal confusion, but oh look, we've since learned they meant to kill.

Thanks for the different pov.