(BBC News UK) A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said.Here's the interesting part:
It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft.
Police are searching premises after 21 people were arrested. Home Secretary John Reid said they believed the "main players" were accounted for.
Sky News' Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said those arrested were mainly young, British-born Asian men.Aw crap, i'm going to have a hard time traveling now. I better lay off the british accent and go straight southern.
The explosives would have been smuggled aboard at least six airliners as hand luggage - and could have been missed during x-ray screening.I guess they've seen Die Hard 3. For those of you cinematic non-entities who might've missed that particular magnum opus, the plot revolves around combinatory liquids that are inert when separate, but explosive and unstable when mixed, aka binary explosives. Their plan appears to have been to smuggle aboard a detonation device and enough liquid to cause a significant explosion. I'd guess the targets were the airplanes themselves rather than using the airplane against anything else. I imagine it'd be difficult to gain control of the cockpit armed only with a liquid explosive, so it was probably for pure destruction.
Security sources believe that liquid explosives would have been used which could have been mixed during the flight into a lethal concoction.
The FAA responds to the threat thusly:
Heightened security caused long lines and delays at airport security checkpoints. The government banned passengers from carrying all liquids and gels, including toothpaste, makeup, suntan lotion. Baby formula and medicines were exempted.And
"Due to the nature of the threat revealed by this investigation, we are prohibiting any liquids, including beverages, hair gels, and lotions from being carried on the airplane. This determination will be constantly evaluated and updated when circumstances warrant," the statement said.But if you think that's bad, here's the situation in the UK:
"British Airways, acting on instruction from the UK Government, wishes to advise passengers that no items of hand baggage can be carried on board any aircraft departing any UK airport," the airline said in a statement.Which brings me to my overall point:
"The UK government has advised that this instruction will apply to all airlines operating from UK airports."
Where does it stop?
The traveling restrictions, that is. Homicidal madmen aren't completely without ingenuity, as today's foiled attack proves. If there's any hole in the security at all, they can find it. Today it's liquids, tomorrow it's woven into a shirt, and the next thing you know, the only way to fly is starkers, chained in, and after an invasive probing.
They can always find a way. Even if only by sheer dint of high-volume effort, they will eventually find a way. Then the airlines will rush to fill that security hole, again at the cost of the citizens' civil liberties, privacy, and most importantly, convenience.
You may think I'm making a big deal out of convenience, but it is important - convenience is the reason people fly in the first place. If the airlines reach the tipping point to where it is more inconvenient for a 90 minute flight than an 1000 minute drive, then they are done for. And as american air travel dissipates, so does american productivity - as business and tourism grinds to a screeching halt.
The intrusion into convenience does not start and end at the airport - as protections against terrorism intrudes into every aspect of life, as we can see in our shopping malls, landmarks, and other population centers. How far are we going to take our defense? Now, Americans have been and still are troopers about it - but how long will it take for these trivial inconveniences to become intolerable?
There is a point at which we must ask if there's another way to stop the threat other than playing the dutch boy with his fingers in the dyke, plugging up every new leak - and there is - we need to stop the flood from happening rather than shore up the dyke. Mid-level managers would call it being pro-active. The solution is not to have better security - the solution is to stop radical Islam.