Mousab Kassem Azzawi
2020 / 11 / 6
Noam Chomsky said in an interview with Amy Goodman on the 4th of April 2017 that “we shouldn t put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged´-or-alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly”. One year before 9/11 a project set up by the men who surrounded George W. Bush said that what America needed was “a new Pearl Harbor”. Its published aims came true in 9/11, as John Pilger observed in the New Statesman in 2002.
Recently, the Trump administration announced a ban on carry-on electronic devices aboard flights heading to the US from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia, which are all Muslim-majority countries-;- this appeared to be a continuity of Trump’s series of controversial executive orders to deny Muslim access to US territories. A few hours after the announcement of the ban in Washington, the United Kingdom, following its definite choice of being the primary subordinate to the US global hegemonic policies since the end of the Second World War, announced a similar ban on flights from the same countries heading to the UK. The official message was that the ban, in its two identical editions across the Atlantic, is an adaptive response to an unspecified terrorist threat in which the presumptive terrorists will use these banned devices to smuggle explosives therein. Essentially, the restrictions will oblige any passenger on those flights to pack any electronic gadget over 16 cm in length, 9.3 cm in width and 1.5 cm in depth in their checked luggage, including in this group almost all phones, laptops and tablets used by the public worldwide.
In light of this ban, we have no choice but to remember that all of these forbidden gadgets are equipped with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), which are the same ones in hold luggage´-or-cargo as prohibited by the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) since the 1st of April 2016. The UN Aviation Agency’s rationale behind the latter non-binding ruling is that LIBs are structurally made to be lightweight, which, in turn, requires a thinner outer shell and internal polymer separators, within which exist lithium molecules arranged in grids surrounded by ether electrolyte milieu that is chemically capable of both storing and discharging electrical power through a pair of electrodes branching off each battery, which technically means that the way in which LIBs are designed and manufactured renders them easily prone to decompression effects due to the decrease in air pressure when the airplane takes off, as well as shocks during transportation of checked luggage from the check-in belt to the storage compartment in the aircraft. Both of the latter risks, which may occur when an LIB finds its way with the checked-in luggage, may create an actual fracture in the outer shell´-or-internal separators of the battery itself,´-or-exacerbate any minute existing hairline crack caused by a previous shock, whereby leading to disruption to the flow of the chemical reaction within the battery, known as a short circuit, which can ignite a spark and a massive combustion in the cell, which may be the trigger for a catastrophic fate of the flight-;- this happened in at least 138 separate cases involving lithium batteries as cargo´-or-luggage from March 1991 to December 2016 in US airlines as per the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), of which was the well-known series of fires on Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets which resulted in a full grounding of this model’s entire fleet. A 2015 ICAO report stated that "the uncontrollability of lithium battery fires can ultimately negate the capability of current aircraft cargo fire suppression systems, and can lead to a catastrophic failure of the airframe”. Eventually, the only logical solution with which aviation experts could come up was to propose “a prohibition of the transport of lithium ion cells and batteries on passenger aircraft, unless a performance-based standard is developed that adequately addresses the risks associated with lithium batteries”. Commercial airlines translated the latter recommendation as to allow lithium-ion batteries in hand luggage only where they will be protected from decompression effects by the automated barometric pressure adjustment in aircraft cabins, as well as from the risk of accidental shocks from being held by the gadget owner and not by cargo transportation personnel. The latter facts apparently contradict the aims and objectives of this ban in its official narrative.
Moreover, the instinctual thinking of any ordinary human being may lead to questioning the validity of justifications for these ban orders as presented to the public by Trump’s administration, along with its perpetual subservient British counterpart, by asking whether they are solid and hard to evade by the presumptive terrorist groups who are at the core of the theoretical objectivity of the orders. In fact, the easiest answer with which to test the ban hypothesis is by laying the scenario of Terrorist X, who wants to smuggle explosives in his iPad from one airport in Turkey on a flight heading to a US airport but could not achieve his aims because of the new ban. Then, his wicked mind hints to him to conspire with a partner, whom we call Terrorist Y, who will book an internal´-or-international flight to the US from the same airport at almost the same time as that of the flight of Terrorist X, and can take the iPad that Terrorist X could not take with him, because Trump’s ban is not applicable to his flight-;- he could meet Terrorist X in the airport transit lobby and give him his iPad, which he can easily conceal somewhere in his carry-on bags in the aircraft cabin, showing how much effort it requires to dodge this ban’s objectives.
Nonetheless, there are many other inherent flaws in the ban’s background, which assumes that all of the screening technologies in airports around the world, such as magnetic detection, X-ray scanning, manual searches, explosive residual swabbing, and sniffing dogs, are useless´-or-they are presumptively intentionally left redundant because the governments of the earlier-mentioned countries are merely complicit within the assumptive terrorism existing in their territories, even though they paid the highest price of the ugly terrorism, as estimated in the number of lost human lives (more than the US and the UK combined), in addition to the bizarre fact that the majority of those countries have been very close allies with the US and the UK since their borders were carved and created arbitrarily by the latter as independent states.
The American government, and its British counterpart to a lesser extent, is in desperate need of whatever can justify their barbaric attitude towards the Muslims within their borders´-or-overseas, which works as valuable fuel for their populist, xenophobic, monstrous, neoliberal policies, as well as a powerful leverage to deviate the attention of their suffering people from the fact that these governments have practically relinquished most of their mandates as subservient to their electorate and transformed their shape and -function-alities to act bluntly as super administrators for the big multinational and transatlantic corporations, which barely pay taxes now in the US and the UK and find it patriotic to hide their 1.2 trillion dollars in cash in selective tax havens such as Ireland, where they have to pay no more than a maximum tax rate of 1%, which was in the case of tech giant Apple just 0.005%. Meanwhile, the burden of funding their perpetual overseas wars is transferred to the backs of the struggling working class in the US and the UK, which are deeply suffering because of the shocking withdrawal of all which is related to the remnants of the welfare states, whereby leaving the weaker sectors in their societies to live a life governed by an unmasked, Darwinian, vicious circle of endless hardships, which have manifested themselves clearly in the fact that household debts in both nations have reached alarming levels. They are similar to those levels that preceded the great recession in 2008, which is an ominous herald if there is anybody in these administrations who is prepared to pay attention, when every member in these administrations is fully indulged in the ideological faith that their sacred duty as governments is to use taxpayers’ money to bail out any failing big corporations when the next recession actually arrives, even if that will mean more skyrocketing borrowing from other nations, as the coming generations in the US and the UK will be able to work harder — possibly more than the 60´-or-70 hours a week that most of the working class in these nations work nowadays to barely survive — to repay the national debts incurred because of these on-demand bailouts.
In fact, nothing would work better to achieve this major task of deviating the attention of ordinary people in the US and the UK than creating all of the conditions for having a disaster such as an exploded aircraft heading to the US´-or-to the UK from a Muslim-majority country. Furthermore, it will not be too difficult for intelligence agencies to dig for a Muslim name from a passenger list on the unfortunate flight, of whom they were “already” aware of terrorist activities, or, if required, invent a name and forge the paperwork required to prove his presence aboard, as was the case with Waleed al Shehri and his photo, who was allegedly accused of being one of the hijackers in the 9/11 catastrophe, but turned out to be alive and well among his family and friends.
It may look to a neutral observer like the whole story of this ban is that of Trump and company building a self-fulfilling prophecy-;- if it happens, it will prove the rightness of his administration’s multi-faceted, savage stances. If not, there will be no harm in adding the objectives of this unsubstantiated ban to his long list of “alternative facts”. However, others may be deeply worried that the greatest fear is that this prophecy may result in a sort of “new Pearl Harbor”, which might be a new episode in the lengthy horror reality show of 9/11, and may be desperately needed by Trump at some stage during his presidency “in order to maintain his popularity, when the white working-class constituency will recognize that Trump promises are built on sand”, as Noam Chomsky warned.