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Airline bombing plot foiled


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Thu, 10 Aug 2006 09:17:49 EDT
CBC News

British police have arrested 21 people in connection with a bombing plot they say would have caused "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" on commercial aircraft flying from Britain to the United States.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Paul Stephenson said the suspects intended to blow up airplanes with explosives smuggled in hand luggage. (Akira Suemori/Associated Press) "This is not about any particular community. This is about mass murder," Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Paul Stephenson told reporters in London on Thursday.

Stephenson said the suspects intended to blow up airplanes with explosives smuggled in hand luggage.

"We think this was an extraordinarily serious plot and we are confident that we've prevented an attempt to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale," he said.

Police said the majority of arrests were made in London, but arrests were also made in its suburbs and in Birmingham. They said searches were continuing Thursday in a number of areas. London's Heathrow Airport was closed Thursday to all incoming European flights that were not already in the air. Security has been increased at all airports in the United Kingdom.

Authorities in the United Kingdom raised the threat level to "critical" following the arrests.

According to news reports, as many as 10 commercial flights were targeted.

Officials said people should not fly out of Britain on Thursday if they can delay their plans. Passengers were facing major delays and congestion at Heathrow, where no liquids or hand luggage were being allowed on departing aircraft.

Air Canada spokesman John Reber said passengers may be delayed by at least an hour if they are planning to fly from the United Kingdom to Canada on Thursday. One flight from London to Toronto was on time early Thursday, but about a dozen other flights from London to Toronto were expected to be late. Reber urged travellers to check the Air Canada website before they leave for the airport.

According to a recording at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, passengers were advised Thursday not to carry gel or liquids of any kind on board, including shampoo and toothpaste, and not to bring drinks through screening points or on board.  Passengers were also being told to arrive early and be patient as security will be thorough. GTAA spokesman Scott Armstrong said all passengers headed for the U.S. on Thursday will have their shoes screened and there will be an increased police presence at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Hand luggage will be allowed on those flights.

Armstrong said Transport Canada, which is responsible for security at Canadian airports, has imposed the restrictions for the next 48 to 72 hours in response to the arrests in Britain. He declined to speculate on how the increased security will affect flights out of Toronto.
"Right now, because the morning rush is starting up, we'll just see how the day goes," he said. "I would call ahead, get to the airport a little bit early and bring your patience with you."

British 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."

In response to the arrests, the U.S. government raised its threat alert to red, its highest level, for commercial flights from Britain to the U.S. It was the first time that the U.S. had done so.

Two American security officials said the suspects had targeted United, American and Continental airlines. Passengers wait at the check-in for their flights at London's Stansted Airport on Thursday. Authorities also raised the alerts for all flights departing from or arriving in the United States slightly.

The U.S. government banned all liquids and gels from flights, including toothpaste, makeup, suntan lotion, but said it would allow baby formula and medicine. Security officials said there is concern about liquids and gels because of the possibility that components used in the making of a bomb could be brought on board in those forms.

U.S. Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff said the bombing plot is "suggestive of an al-Qaeda plot" but added there was no indication that the plotting had occurred in the U.S. Chertoff said there was evidence that the planning was well advanced.

"We believe that these arrests have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted," he said.

Meanwhile in Britain, passengers expressed frustration, cried and said they were worried about flight safety while waiting in long lines. At Heathrow, check-in lines snaked around counters, armed police were in full force in terminals and staff answered questions from upset travellers.

British Airways cancelled more than 200 domestic and European flights from Heathrow. Airlines including Alitalia, Lufthansa, Iberia and Aer Lingus also cancelled flights to Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, which is usually the site of about 1,250 departures and arrivals a day.

Some flights were still leaving the airport Thursday, but with severe delays.

And so it continues..............

What a wonderful day in the neighborhood :(
They waited long enough to let the wests' attention slip and slightly changed the scenario. They just didn't wait long enough, or used dunderheads because they were willing to blow themselves up. We got them this time, maybe next time, but they will succeed. They only have to succeed once, we have to succeed everytime.
What's next?  Snakes on a plane?


Nice job by all involved.  Hope this doesn't effect the flights back of the troops.
Much as I am an old-fashioned law and order guy......maybe its time they just disappeared, rather than be arrested.
How did these guys expect to get explosives past security? They mentioned liquids (nitroglycerine?)...can those be detected by x-ray?
Bo said:
How did these guys expect to get explosives past security? They mentioned liquids (nitroglycerine?)...can those be detected by x-ray?
I doubt the liquid itself registers much, but it has to be contained in something, doesn't it?
The liquid may register on one of those chemical sniffing machines but then I'm talking out my ass.
Mini rant on:

One day, sooner or later, these cowards will find our weakest link, and get lucky, and we as westerns will see another great tragic loss of innocent lives, while extreme islam will thrive on the carnage and blood lust created by their gutless acts.

Mini rant off,


God forbid, my friend.
It is great that the men doing their jobs over in the UK got these guys. I'd hate, as I am sure we all would, to see another tragic terrorist attack.
Well that would explain the ban on all liquids, electronic devices, and carryons...

All for the best, obviously. I myself have quietly worried about how easily a person with a little electronics knowledge can make very dangerous devices out of consumer electronics. I for one hope this ban is permanent, as excruciatingly annoying as it is.
Did anyone notice the date...8/10...is one day less and one month less than 9/11 ???
Glad they caught them...hopefully people will realize that these terrorist groups seem to be relentless and all the more reason to support the war on terrorism  :salute:

I flew to London Heathrow yesterday from Chicago (arrived this morning). People were patted down at the gate and all liquids removed from their carry on luggage, however I'm sorry to report that carry on luggage was still permitted in all shapes and sizes. Electronics were also permitted on the flight. I saw everything from iPods to gameboys to cell phones to laptops being brought (and used) on the plane. For the domestic flight I was on (had a domestic flight in to Chicago before going to London) people were told not to bring liquids on board but nobody was searched at the gate, just when they entered the terminal.

Needless to say, codes Orange and Red security protocols did not impress me.

geo said:
who knows, the only way you'll be able to board safely will be in your birthday suit...

I wonder how long the ban on liquids is going to last?  Flights today arent exactly known for passing out a lot of free drinks anymore.  A drink of water or pop used to be part of the flight service.  Are they providing free drinks again or making everyone pay for drinks?

(I consider it a small price to pay, but my wife thinks its ridiculous for the following reasons:
1 - having to drink baby milk to prove its milk
2 - having a mother and baby being screened as a potential terrorist in the first place
3 - potential for heat prostration and dehydration for those one long trips 
have to admit she has a couple of good points...)