Amid the Hysteria, a Look at What al-Qaeda Can't Do

The failed Christmas bombing shows how far the terrorist network has fallen since Sept. 11

Rob Howard / Corbis

Here's a fact about the underwear attack that you might have missed in the media shoutfest: it failed. It failed, first of all, because Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was just one terrorist. Once upon a time, al-Qaeda's modus operandi was to launch multiple, simultaneous attacks. That way, even if one attack failed, the entire operation wouldn't. On 9/11, the network deployed 19 hijackers on four planes; on 12/25, by contrast, it managed only one. Second, the underwear attack failed because Abdulmutallab wasn't particularly well trained. The 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were personally selected by Osama bin Laden from the tens of thousands...

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