British authorities thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft mid-flight between the United States and Britain using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, officials said Thursday.
Britain’s Home Secretary John Reid said the alleged plot was “significant” and that terrorists aimed to “bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life.”
Police arrested a number of people overnight in London after a major covert counterterrorism operation that had lasted several months, but did not immediately say how many.
Maybe Annie Jacobsen was on to something.
Looks like the focus is on “liquid explosives“.
I’m curious whether we’re talking about TATP, the terrorists’ explosive of choice (used in the London bombings, the Madrid train bombings, OU bomber and the recent Texas City apartment explosion). Sure, in its final form, it’s a white powder, but the compounds used to create it are a mixture of common household chemicals that can be detonated by a signal from a cell phone.
The starting materials include acetone (also called dimethylketone or 2-propanone) an industrial cleaner, hydrogen peroxide (antiseptic), and sulfuric acid (battery acid).
…and it would seem that once behind security lines, terrorists could produce the explosive material with relative ease.
The production of TATP is different from that of most other explosives, with the exception of some like nitroglycerin (NG). Many explosives require heating the starting materials at high temperature to achieve the addition of the required number of nitro groups per molecule. Heating or “cooking,” as it is called, large amounts of reactive chemicals is risky business and can often results in explosions in the bomb-making labs. TATP, on the other hand, can be made at room temperature and the reactive materials actually have to be cooled in ice baths to keep the temperature from becoming too high. The chemical formation of TATP does not require any additional outside source of heat or thermal energy and is simpler for the terrorists to create in makeshift laboratories.
TATP can be detonated simply using friction or impact, while most nitrogen-based explosives require a detonator like a blasting cap. TATP is extremely unstable, and while it can be made at room temperature, the heat given off in the chemical reaction to form the product can be enough to set off the material.
The airlines that may have been targeted are United, American and Continental. (Great, I fly on Continental twice a week)
Hmmm… wonder if this was related?
American Airlines flight 109 left for Boston on Monday, but two hours into the journey it turned back to Heathrow Airport in west London.
And speaking of detonation by cellphone… I wonder if there’s any relation to the 2 Dearborn, MI men arrested yesterday in Ohio carrying airplane passenger lists, information on airport security checkpoints, $11,000 cash and 12 phones in their car?
Abulhassan and Houssaiky admitted buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio, said sheriff’s Maj. John Winstanley. The men said they sold the phones to someone in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb.
Does that tie back to the January investigation launched into a surge of disposable tracfone purchases across the U.S.?
In one New Year’s Eve transaction at a Target store in Hemet, Calif., 150 disposable tracfones were purchased.
In an earlier incident, at a Wal-Mart store in Midland, Texas, on Dec. 18, six individuals attempted to buy about 60 of the phones until store clerks became suspicious and notified the police.
It was these kinds of pre-paid, disposable phones that were used to detonate the bombs on Madrid trains in March 2004.
Oh, and by the way:
In the Midland, Texas, arrest report, police also identified the individuals as linked to a terror cell:
“Evasive responses provided by the subjects, coupled with actions observed by officers at the onset of the contact prompted the notification of local FBI officials to assist in the investigation,” the report said. “Upon the arrival of special agents, and as a result of subsequent interviews, it was discovered that members of the group were linked to suspected terrorist cells stationed within the Metroplex.”
Oh, and in that investigation into the bulk cell phone purchases comes this tidbit:
Upon conclusion of the initial investigation, three of the suspects were taken into custody on immigration violations…
Now back to other “unrelated” news… Where are the missing Egyptians?
UPDATE: Right on cue, many on the Left attribute the news of this latest foiled plot to another manufactured conspiracy to keep political contributions rolling in:
3. Have to keep the Sheep Afraid.
152. If they let it go forward, then they would be faced with failure in the eyes of the public. In addition, what do you think the US or the UK is going to do in response? Attack Pakistan? C’mon. If they only let out warnings and foiled attempts, they kill to birds with one stone. Not only do they look like they’re acting tough in the war on terror, but they keep the public on high alert.
Of course, then there’s the Bush-blaming contingent arriving right on schedule:
4. we heard something about this on the radio, i googled and
found this headline
“Airline terror plot ‘foiled’”
so what exactly is bush doing to stop this shit? lucky the british weren’t asleep
Funny this is posted to a forum on a site that calls for Bush’s impeachment when he “is doing something to stop this shit”.
Or better yet, maybe it’s all a big Republican conspiracy because a Democrat lost a primary.
I simply find it amazing that these liberals are so quick to believe there’s a conspiracy among multinational heads of state involving literally thousands of people in an effort to score political points and rally campaign donations, but are equally quick to dismiss an actual conspiracy between several dozen terrorists who have declared their intent to kill us all.
UPDATE 2: Maybe I was right about the TATP.
According to a Department of Homeland Security briefing to the aviation sector, the terrorists appear to have planned to use multiple persons aboard each flight to assemble peroxide-based liquid or gel high explosives. The bomb-making materials could easily be concealed in small containers — water bottles, tooth paste tubes, juice boxes and any of the other numerous person items passengers traditionally take into the passenger compartment of commercial flights.