The Llakor Project - Year Two Chapter Three: How Will He Catch Them?
“How will he catch them?”
“Daniel, pay attention to me! How will he catch the bombers, your Detective Gideon?”
“Isabelle! Isn’t it obvious that I need my beauty rest?”
“Staying awake a few minutes longer will not make you any uglier Daniel. Now answer my question.”
“Slave driver. Look, he will have - at least to start - an army at his disposal. To question witnesses, collect evidence - fingerprints, DNA, fragments of the bombs. That sort of thing. Your routine enquiries only with an army of people to collect and analyze the data. The real danger is that too much evidence is collected and no one is able to sort the trivia from the real clues.”
“Fragments of the bombs? Surely they will have been blown to bits?”
“You don’t watch enough CSI. Truth is that virtually the entire bomb survives the explosion. And there lies the first danger for the bombers. Most bomb makers are creatures of habit. They have their small points of vanity, little signatures that creep up in every bomb that they make, sometimes without realizing what they are doing.”
“You mean like the Batman villain The Riddler who feels compelled to leave little riddles behind?”
“Yes and no. Good comic book reference though. When a bomb maker makes a bomb there are little quirks in each bomb. What materials does he use? Where does he get his materials? How does he put those materials together? There are so many different ways that each bomb is made that every one tends to be a little bit unique, but bombs made by the same person tend to be similarly unique. Like how all Picassos are different from every other Picasso, but compared to the works of other artists... all Picassos look like works by Picasso. Most bomb makers are looked on like sorcerors by their allies. No one asks too many questions about the bomb itself as long as it explodes and makes a really big hole.
I spent time in jail in Belfast with a fellow who had got pinched for making bombs. Turns out that he had a habit of buying a pack of Double Mint stick gum before starting a bomb. Problem was that he would wrap the metal strips that the gum came in in to his bomb. The other problem was that he bought these packs of gum from the store across the street from the US Embassy. Turns out that the Double Mint gum that this store sold was a special import. The metal strip in these gum packs were slightly different than the ones sold in Ireland normally. The Brits figured that out and than followed every man, woman and child that bought a pack of Double Mint gum from the store until they found our bomber.
Not sure if that will help in this case. The fellows who set these bombs seem particularly smart.”
“Smart? How smart?”
“Well, look at the timing of the bombs. All took place within a short period of time. Over a broad distance. That is very sophisticated. And flashy a bit. Arrogant.
And look at the targets. The famous London Underground. The famous London red double-decker buses. Both icons. Both important for what they represented and for what they did. By attacking them, transportation across London comes grinding to a halt. The bombs attack both the modes of easy transportation and the idea of easy transportation.
And they set the bombs to cause casualties that could be seen. Terrorists, you understand, are using a form of propaganda. Those they don’t kill, they want to maim. Those they don’t injure, they want to scare.
Yes, very clever these bombers. Now being clever politically, strategically and being very. very clever tactically, these are very different things. But if they are clever at both... well, if I was their leader, I would have purchased each of the more innocent bomb components in different stores spread out across London. I wouldn’t have gotten all of the components in any one given store. And I would have thrown out the excess, so that you had just enough components but from dozens of stores, from all over the place. If you need a battery for instance, I would make sure to end up with twelve different batteries in different sizes and voltages in as many different brands and from as many different stores as possible. When my bomb maker was assembling the bombs, I would make him assemble some bombs with the right hand and some with the left - just the left hand. I would get him to disassemble a few bombs and reassemble them only backwards to the original design.
Let chaos be your signature. Force your bomb maker to make one bomb with two batteries and one with none. Your bomb maker will still leave a piece of his personality in the bomb’s design, but by forcing him to be random you can help conceal and confuse his normal signature.
All of which is more dangerous of course, but if it makes you harder to catch? If it sows confusion and discord amongst your enemies? Well, worth it. Well worth it.
Yes. I fear that these bombers will turn out to be very very clever indeed.”
“Oh mon dieu. Pauvre monsieur Gideon. What will he do?”
“Well, the bombers might not be that smart or being that smart, they might still do something particularly stupid, like say leave a label on a part or something like that. And if you are clever about your signature, by definition you have visited more shops, you have had a better chance of being filmed making a purchase. And for something like this, Monsieur Gideon will have his army of police available to watch tapes.
Still, what are they looking at? What are they looking for? A swarthy man buying a pack of batteries and some wire? What if he hired some twelve year old to make his purchases for him?
No, at the end of the day, the answer will be in the bombs. The end and the beginning. The alpha and the omega. The destroyed and the reconstructed. They will have to reconstruct those bombs like scorched jigsaw puzzles. And when they have finished putting them all back together, they will know something of the mind of their maker. And once they know him, they can find him, and once they can find him, they can find his boss.
I just hope...”
“I hope that he is a very good bomb maker. A very proficient bomb maker indeed. A man in whom a great deal of training and time is invested. A valuable man. Because if he is not a valuable man, these clever, clever men may have already killed the bomber and buried him so that his body is never found or at least not for a very long time.”
“How would they make his body disappear?”
“You put his body in the foundation of a building and you pour a layer of soft wet concrete over him. With luck, the building might stand for twenty, fifty, one hundred years perhaps longer.
Still, finding the people who did this thing, it is a little like trying to prevent it from happening. When you are trying to prevent it from happening, like a football goalie at the crease, you have to be perfect all the time. And even when you are perfect, sometimes, sometimes, sometimes there is nothing that you can do to prevent that goal from being scored. But once the bombs are exploded, the offence shifts. To keep from being caught you have to be perfect, perfect, perfect, because you only to need to make one tiny mistake, one tiny slip and BAM! you’re nicked.
On the other hand, with these fellows for all I know, being perfect is their signature.”
As someone who has served one tour of duty in Iraq and is getting ready to leave for another at the end of November, let me say that My War by Colby Buzzell is just about as close of a description as you can get to everyday life as a soldier in Iraq.