Every time there is an attempt by a terrorist to blow something up, the immediate response is why wasn’t the terrorist identified sooner. Farouk Abdullmutallab, the Nigerian young man, who tried blowing himself up on a plane has created blame calling in the UK and the USA. It appears he was being watched by M15 agents who knew of his contacts with al-Qaeda, but intelligence agents did not place much credence in the idea Farouk might be dangerous. They now insist he was not tagged because his behavior was similar to many young men who had been “reaching out” to extremists. A Whitehall source told the Guardian, “it is becoming clear he had very close contacts across Europe and Africa, some of whom had extreme views” and “there is evidence he held extreme views and was in contact with those who had such view as long as 2007.”
The problem is how does one know when one man is a terrorist and another is simply a blow hard. Reality is there is no particular guaranty that a person who speaks about jihad or hatred of the West is, by definition, a terrorist. There is no “certainty” concerning terrorists, there is only speculation. For each Farouk who tried to explode himself, there are a dozen who talk and boast, but will never implement their words with actions.