Terror plots new norm
WHERE were you on New Year’s Eve, 2003? If you were enjoying the fireworks on television, or out by Sydney Harbour somewhere, you were an unwitting participant in an almost cinematic drama playing out at the highest levels of law enforcement and government.
It was the terror plot we never knew about: wellfounded police suspicions that individuals (several of whom are now convicted terrorists) were planning to do something involving a boat, explosives and the harbour. Authorities were so concerned that they even diverted an oil tanker out of Sydney Harbour, fearful it might be blown up.
That prospect is almost too awful to contemplate. Police had surrounded the house of their main suspect — but even so, they were deeply worried that he or his operatives had placed a boat somewhere in a public area to be a floating bomb.
Of course, as we now know, there was no floating bomb, and there was no disaster. We should all be grateful to the police who did their best to keep us safe that night. The story is also a reminder that we have now been living in an entirely altered world (the post World Trade Center world) for nearly two decades. This really is the new normal.
Back when the 9/11 attacks happened, politicians were quick to say, defiantly, that ordinary people should not change their lives or be fearful about everyday activities, because that would mean the terrorists had won: that they’d struck terror into our hearts. But the truth is the terrorists did win on 9/11. They did frighten us. They did change our world forever. We can never go back.
There’s a bigger reminder, too. Behind the scenes, even when we think there’s nothing going on, the NSW Police are working to keep us safe. That might sound corny, or naive, but the truth is those officers risk their lives for us, every single day.
They deserve our thanks — for New Year’s Eve 2003, and for all the dark and scary nights.