Today's attack on Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey confirms what we learned in Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels. Although they still prefer to hit high-profile targets, terrorists will settle for any venue that nets them a large body count. The perpetrators would have preferred to enter the terminal, but, failing that, they detonated their suicide vests at the entrances.
Terrorism experts call this phenomenon "target displacement." If your intended target is too heavily guarded, hit an alternative one nearby. Aside from the dead and wounded, the Turkish economy is the other victim of the attack. With two millennium of history to display, Istanbul is a popular tourist destination. After several fourth attack on the city in the past year, far fewer visitors will go there.
While there has as yet been no claim of responsibility, the signs point to ISIS. The Islamic State has carried out a wave of attacks in Europe since last fall. The similarities between this airport attack and the one in Brussels are hard to miss. Fortunately, Ataturk is a more secure airport than the on Belgium. Passengers must pass through security before they enter the terminal. Unfortunately, a crowd of people lined up at a check point makes for a high body count, and it frightens travelers just as much.
People in the U.S. will of course be wondering what more can be done to keep them safe when they travel. Pushing security out to the curb will probably not work. To take a single example, the sidewalk in front of O'Hare International Airport could not even hold all the passengers as they waited to enter its terminals. Even if at-the-door security were possible, those lining up for it might be more vulnerable than they are now.
Vigilance on the part of travelers, camera surveillance and improved intelligence gathering offer the best hope of improved security. Keeping up the military pressure on ISIS is also necessary. The rest of us should just continue to live our lives and take our trips. If we stay home and become hostages to our own fear, we give the terrorists what they want.