Spotting the Terror Threat

The bumbled car bombs in Britain revealed the changing face of terrorism. Are we prepared to deal with it?

Gideon Mendel / Corbis for TIME

A member of the British Transport Police stands guard at Euston Station in London on July 3, 2007. This was part of a massive security and police presence at stations and transport points around London, a response to the recent attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow.

The human brain is designed to seek out patterns. The urge is particularly strong when we are frightened, and rightly so. Finding patterns in our past is a good way to survive the future, most of the time.

Just before 2 a.m. on June 29, police discovered a metallic green Mercedes filled with containers of fuel, cylinders of gas and a pile of nails outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London. About the same time, parking authorities discovered a blue Mercedes containing a similar cocktail of matériel. The very next day, a green Jeep Cherokee filled with gas cylinders and fuel...

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