Saturday, 22 November 2003

Terror economics

TAME NO MORE. The train ride home to Glasgow from Edinburgh is nothing special to write home about. As far as home-from-work journeys go, it is relatively tame and sedate compared to traversing Edsa in rush hour, or even trying to get out of Cebu City between the hours of five and seven. If anything, I find it a de-stressing journey, a chance to gradually relax and leave my workday behind me.

Thursday night’s trip home, however, was quite out of the ordinary. For one, I had just come home from one of the endless swirls of corporate networking events that I have to attend, especially at this time of the year. Tonight’s was the launch of this year’s batch of Beaujolais Noveau, and so was well attended by members of the British-French business community. That, apart from the fact that I quite fancy a taste of the new tipple, especially at its introduction, was reason enough for me to be there.

A few sniffs, snips and exchanges of business cards later, I was comfortably on the express train home, earphones in place, busily trying to find my relaxing (meaning not rap or hip-hop) music channel, to begin the de-stressing routine I had become accustomed to.

The news I heard made sure a relaxing ride it was not to be.

No, I am not referring to the lambasting the Scotland football team received from the press, after exiting from the Euro 2004 qualifiers with a resounding 6-0 defeat at the hands of The Netherlands. Though I now quite like football, and do support the on again-off again national team of the place where I currently reside, the Filipino in me never really gets as fired up with football as the rest of our readers are when it comes to matters about basketball.

It was not even the news that Turkey—where our family had lived for over seven years—had also exited the Euro qualifiers via a shocking 3-2 defeat to a lightweight Latvian team at home in Istanbul. To put matters in perspective, Turkey placed third in the last World Cup, so not even making the Euro qualifiers would be like the LA Lakers not even making the cut for the Pacific Division playoffs in the NBA. Mighty shocking indeed!

But no, it was the other news about Turkey that jolted me out of my otherwise homeward bound mood. My recollection of Turkey—despite the frenetic chaos of Istanbul, was of a surprisingly serene and beautiful place—which made the news I was hearing sound too incredible to be true. But it was, unfortunately.

Twenty-seven people confirmed dead, 450 people injured, many of them seriously.

The blasts were well timed, striking at the heart of British interests in this very secular and pro-Western Muslim country, at exactly the same time that the meeting between George Bush and Tony Blair was taking place in London.

Hallmarks of Al-Qaeda, you say. The symbolic timing, the precise execution, the ruthless devastation of it all bears the signature of the dreaded organization’s handiwork.

However, behind the blood and debris is another Al Qaeda specialty—striking at the heart of Western economic interests, where it hurts most.

Nine-eleven was the coup de grace to the current recession in the United States—this one may yet derail the long awaited upturn the world has been waiting for since the twin towers came down. Let’s look at the out-of-pocket costs of this latest terror strike next week.

Published in Sun Star Daily, Saturday, November 22, 2003 (