They wanted to impress us, and instead, we laughed
The two Libyan men in their 20s made no demands. They let all the passengers and crew leave the plane unharmed. They were carrying fake weapons – which we didn’t get to see. And they were considered so non-threatening that the pilot and co-pilot were hyper-relaxed about it. And most telling of all, Chris Fearne, the publicity-addicted health minister, didn’t even bother to put the state general hospital stand-by alert, let alone tweet about it – as he did when a small plane containing around eight people was incinerated shortly after take-off, and there was never going to be anybody left alive for the hospital to deal with.
But yesterday, when everybody was celebrating Christmas, the two ‘hijackers’ were escorted to the Courts of Justice by Malta’s anti-terrorism squad in full gear and armed to the teeth: 12 officers in black, carrying assault weapons, six per ‘hijacker’. They looked ridiculous, and everybody who saw the photographs and video footage said so. The government wanted us to be impressed, and instead, we laughed.
Those two men needed no more than the usual police escort and a car straight in the back of the Courts through the Strait Street garage, as usually happens even with the worst sorts of actual murderers.
But yesterday they wanted to put on a big show, in a last-ditch effort at demonstrating in a visual manner just how dangerous these ‘terrorists’ are and, by default, how very impressive Strongman Joseph was in dispatching their non-demands so quickly.
Meanwhile, Mrs Muscat was making gingerbread men (yes, again – gingerbread men have featured fairly regularly in her PR repertoire) while being filmed at this charming pastime by the Xarabank crew. Joseph, she told her interviewer, was at the gym, the reason why he has lost so much weight.