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August 10, 2006
BRITISH THWART MEGA-TERROR PLOT TO BLOW UP SIX UK-US AIRPLANES
SCOTLAND YARD: "PUT SIMPLY, THIS WAS TO BE MASS-MURDER ON AN UNIMAGINABLE SCALE"
Some Planes Were To Be Blown Up Over US and UK Cities
British Security Source: Plot "Had the Potential To Be Bigger Than 9/11"
Tickets Were Bought/Were To Be Bought On Consecutive Flights Originating out of Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, & Heathrow, En Route To US; American Carriers Specifically Targeted
Twenty One Terrorists Arrested; Two More At Large (At Least); Unconfirmed Tip: Up to FIFTY Terrorists Involved In Plot
Terrorists Were Mostly British-Born Men "of Pakistani Origin"
United Kingdom At "Highest Possible State of Alert"
Scotland Yard "Confident" the Plot Has Been "Disrupted"
Majority of Arrests Made in London, Some In Birmingham and Thames Valley; Other Addresses Being Checked For Remaining Suspects
Terrorists Were Not On The Planes Yet, But They Were "Close"
US Official: A "Serious Al Qaeda Connection"
Bush, US Intel/Law Enforcement Have Known Of Investigation For Months
Note: this post was live-blogged as information came in. Not all information below remains accurate at this time. I'm too tired to edit all the changes, like "10-12" suspects becoming 21 suspects in custody. Information in the subheds above is accurate as of 4:55 AM ET. (Insomnia.)
I wonder what the inciting event here was that caused the cops to move. If I had to guess, going on bits like "the terrorists were going to board consecutive flights leaving Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, and Hethrow," and "they were not on the planes yet, but they were close," I'd just hazard the obvious -- they bought the tickets.
I wonder, then, if that Monday event, with a UK to US plane turned around due to a name on a watch-list, was related at all. Could have just been an unrelated event. If it were a dry run-- how did they know it was a dry run, and why did they let the guy on the plane?
Note the number given of up to fifty terrorists involved comes from Larwynn. I didn't see it myself. However, she's been emailing me tips on this all night, and there hasn't been a single thing she's sent me that I didn't see or read myself within ten minutes later. So, pretty much, I trust her, unless the number "50" was a typo for "30" or "40."
LONDON (CNN) -- British police have disrupted what they believe was a major terrorist plot to blow up aircraft in flight, likely between the United Kingdom and the United States, a statement from Scotland Yard said Thursday.
"It is believed that the aim was to detonate explosive devices smuggled on board the aircraft in hand luggage. It is believed that the attacks would have been particularly targeted at flights from the UK to the USA," the statement said.
Arrests were made overnight in London by the Metropolitan Police Department's anit-terrorist branch and security service.
Police are being cagey about describing the men arrested, so you know what that means...
"Moderates." G-darn moderates.
Greerwynn tips, and adds this, which I can't find on my own, but:
UK AIRPORTS BANNING HAND LUGGAGE
There's going to come a point when we just have to accept that you can't travel with luggage anymore; luggage gets loaded on a luggage-only flight.
A hassle, yes, but thanks to the "moderates," we have to continue giving up more and more of our freedoms, but God forbid we should curtail any of theirs.
The Luggage Thing: Via the BBC:
Passengers will not be allowed to take any hand luggage on to any flights in the UK, the department said.
Only the barest essentials - including passports and wallets - will be allowed to be carried on board in transparent plastic bags.
"We hope that these measures, which are being kept under review by the government, will need to be in place for a limited period only," the statement said.
More: Terror level in Britain raised from Severe to Critical.
The "at least 20" is from a FoxNews/SkyNews television report.
The report seems joined in progress, but 10-12 "individuals" (read: moderates) intended to smuggle explosives on 20 planes or more.
MONDAY: UK TO US PLANE TURNED BACK FOR "SECURITY CONCERNS:" Didn't think much of this at the time. Didn't even read it.
US-bound plane carrying 240 passengers was turned around mid-flight for security reasons.
American Airlines flight 109 left for Boston on Monday, but two hours into the journey it turned back to Heathrow Airport in west London.
Scotland Yard said four people were being "spoken to" at Heathrow, but no-one had been arrested.
A spokesman for Boston's Logan Airport said one passenger's name matched a name on the "no-fly" list.
There were 240 passengers and 13 crew members on board the Boeing 777 aircraft, which was due to touch down in Boston at 1805 BST.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said four people were being spoken to under port and border controls - a section of the Terrorism Act under which a person can be questioned and detained for up to nine hours.
But she stressed they had not been arrested.
In a statement, American Airlines said the plane returned to Heathrow "due to a security issue that needed to be resolved in London".
You realize how close this came to actually happening?
More... "At least 12 people," Fox is saying now, have been arrested. And there are more suspects out there.
Most are British born, but -- please sit down before I tell you this -- "of Pakistani origin."
They won't say what terror group is behind this -- making me think it's actually not Al Qaeda, or at least not Al Qaeda proper. If it were, they'd just say so. It's not un-PC to note that Al Qaeda wants to kill us.
Liquid explosives -- ALL LIQUIDS NOW FORBIDDEN FOR CARRY-ON.
Frankly, I have no friggin' idea why the hell I was allowed to bring shaving cream or -- get this -- up to 20 ounces of lighter fluid on planes. I don't know the exact figure, but I remember seeing I could take a certain large amount of lighter fluid on a flight. To which I sighed, "We're not serious."
God knows you couldn't just buy shaving cream, toothpaste, lighter fluid, etc., at your destination city. Oh no-- you need to travel at all times prepared to shave, brush your teeth, and light a massive beach bonfire.
The Politics: Fuck it, the whole world is politics, let me lay it out.
A spokesman at Logan Airport, USA, said that the flight had been turned around because one name matched the watch-list.
Although this is not dispositive that American snoops found the name, it suggests that the plane was turned back due to objections from the American side.
Again: This is not dispositive. I'm speculating based on limited information. But let's assume that's correct -- provisionally. And see what flows from that.
Although there has not been a terrorist attack on America itself, no one has given Bush credit for this. The assumption, sometimes expressly stated, by liberals is that Al Qaeda just isn't even trying -- that's why there have been no attacks. (Yes, this contradicts their other claim that Al Qaeda is growing stronger due to Bush's "miserable failures," and etc., but they never cared much for "internal coherence.")
So, politically, if it is the case the name was spotted on the American side, than this is plot on the level of 9/11, to blow up twenty airplanes of 200-400 people each, OVER American and British cities as they descended to land, thus causing casualties on the groudn as well, and THE CURRENT SECURITY REGIME OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION STOPPED IT. Apparently mere days before it happened.
Questions that arise:
Was it a good idea to rtry to repeal the Patriot Act?
If the names came from America-- what y'all think of NSA wirefuckingtaps now?
Kind of nice to know the people a terrorist is calling, huh? You can round them up in a hurry, eh?
If one of these bastards wouldn't give up his allies, would it have been justified to use "coercive interrogation practices" on him?
Shall these bastards necessarily be tried in civilian courts? Are they really deserving of the full protections of law? They don't really seem to be "British citizens" to me, no matter what their passports say.
Was Bush reading "My Pet Goat" when this happened?
A lot of commenters have been saying we wouldn't get serious about terror again until, unfortanately, a massive chuck of a city was destroyed.
But there is a less destructive wake-up call-- the mega-terrorist plot that is not successful, but thwarted days (or hours) before it is implemented.
Let's hope people finally get it that we can't just "go back to normal" and pretend there is no terrorist threat, no matter how childishly some may like to pretend 9/11 never happened.'
GREERWYNN TIP: Parents will have to taste baby-bottle milk to get it on board?
Let's go one step further. I know nothing about parenting or nursing, but can women tell me-- is it such a big deal if all baby-bottle milk came from the plane itself? That is-- you use their formula. Would it be difficult for a plane to just stock up on the stuff ahead of time? Is it very important to have a certain kind?
Are there nonallergenic formulas for babies who are alergic to formula milk? (Is there such a condition at all?)
Nursing moms -- is it a big deal if your kid has to drink formula for six or ten hours, rather than premilked mother's milk?
I sort of would like to avoid this risk, if possible.
The Assumption: Seems weaker. FoxNews says this plot had been monitored by British Intelligence for months. So the American-end-of-it-catches-the-plotters theory seems wrong.
Any Relation? The Dearborne, MI terror bust.
Thanks to Stepanie for the tip. Unrelated, but as I just stole her tip, let me note her report on rumors that Hezbollah head Nasrallah is hiding out in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
Numbers: Allah says he heard "12 planes, 20 suspects," but I just heard Skynews say again, clearly, "up to 20 planes or more."
This may not make sense when you think there are only 12 suspects, but I don't think that's the case. There are 10-12 suspects in custody and others still at large.
Terror Alert In America Raised To High, Orange, for airports/commercial flights only; raised to Red for flights originating out of UK to US.
No indication of plotting in America, according to DHS head Chertoff.
Updates: Limited carry on/no liquid rule now applies to US flights.
Suspected that terrorists have formulated potent home-made liquid explosives.
Electronic devices --cell phones, Blackberries, laptops -- now must go into luggage in UK to prevent their components being used for detonators. Rule will probably extend to US. So, more delays at airports, with less to distract you.
Just a thought... this will force people to buy more crappy magazines at airport newstands... maybe Bush has engineered this to bail his Fat Cat buddies in the magazine industry out of a prolonged air-revenue slump.
They're now saying six planes were targeted, but they were saying 20 all night until twenty mintues ago.