Sleep well this eve.

Back in April, “Iranian officials” claimed that if we were to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons program, 40,000 suicide bombers would retaliate against American, British and Israeli interests.

Then, on Tuesday, we received this wisdom from Mojataba Bigdeli of Iran’s Hezbollah on Tuesday:

We have 2,000 volunteers who have registered since last year… They have been trained and they can become fully armed. We are ready to dispatch them to every corner of the world to jeopardise Israel and America’s interests. We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader’s green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three … we welcome it.

That’s scary stuff. It is imperative that we find the Supreme Leader (I have visions of Cobra Commander in a yellow suit with the green-and-red Hezbollah logo) before he gives the proverbial green light, and arrange to have a proverbial 18-wheeler run the proverbial red light at the proverbial intersection.

The above pronouncements remind me of a hilariously paranoid and manipulative friend, “Karl,” for two reasons. First: this friend was mildly anti-Semitic (he claimed that his father had been in the Sturmabteilung during WWII), just as the Iranian leadership and Hezbollah are mildly anti-Semitic.

The second reason is the sheer magnitude of these claimed martyr brigades: forty thousand suicide bombers, two thousand “volunteers”… the word “thousand” triggered a memory of a conversation Karl and I had long ago.

“Suppose,” Karl asked, “that a man is walking along a busy street in an American city in the middle of the day. What would happen if this man suddenly whipped out an automatic rifle and opened fire?”

I responded that he’d probably kill a few people before either the cops or an armed citizen took him down.

“Now suppose,” Karl asked, “that instead of one man going on a shooting spree, it was two or three men?”

I responded that they’d kill more people than a single shooter would, and that the cops would have more trouble taking him down.

“Now suppose,” Karl asked, “that instead of two or three men going on a shooting spree, it was one hundred sleeper cells of one hundred men each, in one hundred American cities? At a predetermined time, in the middle of the day, they just took out guns and started firing? What would happen?”

I responded, “Um…”

Ten thousand people launching that kind of attack? The military couldn’t respond fast enough, police would probably be overwhelmed… There might be a few cities and towns where the citizens were better armed than the sleepers, but either way there were going to be lots and lots of dead people before all was said and done.

If such an attack did occur in real life, how would we respond to it? Better yet, how would we prevent such an attack from occurring in the first place?

It has always been difficult to identify and arrest sleepers prior to suicide attacks. Part of a long-term solution to this problem lies in convincing would-be suicide bombers that such attacks would not be worthwhile, but we need to go beyond merely stating that they won’t achieve their masters’ political aims. We need to convince them that if they carry out these suicide/homicide missions, then they are bound for The Bad Place–not Paradise and a harem of 72 willing virgins. Alas, that kind of convincing is far easier said than done.

Incidentally, there’s a monster hiding under your bed.