View Full Version : French Police Misplace Explosives on Jet

4th Dec 2004, 20:17
French Police Misplace Explosives on Jet


Published: December 4, 2004

Filed at 3:37 p.m. ET

PARIS (AP) -- Police at Paris' top airport lost track of a passenger's bag in which plastic explosives were placed to train bomb-sniffing dogs, police said Saturday. Warned that the bag may have gotten on any of nearly 90 flights from Charles de Gaulle, authorities searched planes upon arrival in Los Angeles and New York.

French police said the explosives were harmless and there was no chance of their going off, since no detanators were connected to them.

More than 300 passengers were evacuated and their luggage searched when their Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle arrived in Los Angeles late Friday the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said

Two Air France and one American Airlines flight to Paris were also searched in New York City, TSA spokesman Norm Brewer said. No explosives were found on any of the flights.

French police at Charles de Gaulle deliberately placed up to five ounces of plastic explosives into a passenger's luggage Friday evening, police spokesman Pierre Bouquin said.

But a ``momentary lack of surveillance'' led to the bag being lost on a conveyor belt carrying luggage from check-in to planes, he said.

Authorities immediately alerted the relevant airlines that one of between 80 and 90 planes that left the French capital from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday could be carrying the explosives, Bouquin said.

Four of the flights were en route to the United States, while others were headed to places like Japan and Brazil, Bouquin said. Some were domestic French flights. The flight searched in Los Angeles was delayed two to three hours before continuing on its next leg to Tahiti in the South Pacific.

``These dogs must be trained in the most realistic situation possible ... to be the most effective,'' Bouquin said.

``Indeed, it's possible that someone will have a surprise when he opens his bag.''

4th Dec 2004, 20:58
Well at least they didn't try and blame it on the dog! :p

Onan the Clumsy
4th Dec 2004, 21:05
Whoa, wait a minutepolice deliberately placed up to 5 oz of explosive's in a passenger's luggage Then they lost it?

Am I the only person who is wondering what would happen to me if my bags were searched on arrival and this was found...but they hadn't owned up to losing it?

"I'm sorry officer/ I don't know anything about it.".

I wonder how often they do this - with or without losing it.

4th Dec 2004, 22:45
I especially like how, when they realized the luggage was lost, they just let the conveyer belts keep running. They notified the airlines once the planes where airborne; "oh, by the way, you have explosives on-board, don't worry. It is safe".

Somebody screwed up several times here. They lost the bag, then they don't shut down the baggage system to look for it. Then they don't tell the airlines till the aircraft are all airborne.

Makes me feel really safe. Good work guys.


compressor stall
5th Dec 2004, 01:54
I recall a story several years ago now of an Aussie opening his suitcase in the UK to find a bag of cocaine with "property of UK police" or some such stuff on it.

Same story - trying to test the system and lost track of it!

5th Dec 2004, 03:15
Where was the dog when they were looking for the stuff? How come he couldn't find it? If he was only a trainee, how come they didn't use a real dog?

Ignition Override
5th Dec 2004, 04:50
How about in Singapore-they would probably hang you anyway, would they not? Unless the foreign government could convince the dictatorship over there.

Can you imagine how you would feel in that jail, or other such countries? How about your relatives far away?

Would your body age several years as you waited for the decision on whether they would hang you? A Dutch guy was hanged in the early 90s for a very small amount of cocaine in his suitcase.:oh:

5th Dec 2004, 08:51
The French have odd ideas about security. In 1984, when France's late President Francois Mitterrand visited Britain to commemorate the Entente's 80th anniversary, one of his bodyguards planted explosives in the grounds of the French ambassador's residence to test British security (ie embarass them). The Met Police sniffer dogs found it all, but were not best pleased at the frogs' actions. I hope heads rolled for pulling that stunt.

5th Dec 2004, 09:38
"Where was the dog when they were looking for the stuff? How come he couldn't find it?"

I don't have any doubts that given adequate time to search the 90 target aircraft, that the Dog would have found the bomb material :O

It might be better in future to restrict "The potential search area" to less than 90 aircraft and keep them "On the ground" too!!!! :ugh:

:ok: :ok:

5th Dec 2004, 10:30
More to the Point........what where the French Police doing going into a Passangers bags, without reason/suspicion!

If they want to do things like that use a dummy case!!

5th Dec 2004, 10:32
Don't worry (too much) about that kid playing with plasticine in row 20....

5th Dec 2004, 10:47
Wasn't it the British police who "forgot" some explosives left in a seat-pocket, also for training purposes, some years ago?

surely not
5th Dec 2004, 10:52
Agree with all the comments re an embarrassing and inept failure for the French Authorities but....................... there wasn't a detonator so there was no danger to the aircraft carrying it.

I would like to think that it was the fact that there was nil risk to the aircraft which led to the decision NOT to close down the whole airport. Full details would have been forwarded to the arrival airports who would then get their own dogs or x -rays to check the bags before pax could gain access to them. In fact the pax should have been oblivious to the problem.

It is quite a regular event for inbound bags to be screened for all manner of things :D

5th Dec 2004, 12:45
Unless you're going into the US...

Then you've got traces of explosive all over the stuff in your suitcase and the actual case itself.

First time you try to walk into a tourist attraction through one of those explosive detectors you'll have 4 inbred security guards each weighing 300lbs shouting at you to "DROP THE EXPLOSIVE OR WE'LL FIRE"

Bienvenidos a los Estados Unidos

5th Dec 2004, 13:48
This is amazing. Simply astounding. I don't care if the materials are inert. ABird747 has it right. If I found that my bag had had dangerous materials placed into it, then I would be in the Courts the next day. The item is now on the BBC web news.

If they choose a person at random, surely they would do so after they have checked in? Then they would know the identity of the person? Their hand luggage would have a tag on it and so forth. They could then track the tag number. But they seem to have just picked on a bag that they could grab and not bothered about who the person was. Worse - perhaps they had picked someone of a particular racial type and appearance?

They could never presume that they would be able to keep a direct 'eye' on the person all the way through. If there was a fire evacuation of the building/terminal/aircraft then all bets would be off. This really is astounding. Remind me to avoid French airports and carriers.

If they want to carry out a practice, why do they not have one of their own staff booked on the flight? They can carry the materials and full identity in case of a problem. The dog will not know that the person is a member of staff. Come to think of, the dog could not help noticing the dumb expression on the person's face. ;)

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Robert Vesco
5th Dec 2004, 14:07
The French authorities are just hopelessly incompetent! :mad:

Lotīs of bureaucracy, lotīs or rules, lotīs of people (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1655820.stm) enforcing those rules and still they always manage to screw it up.

Itīs just how the country works...or I rather should say fails to work.

From ATC ("station calling?") to security (remember Richard Reed, the shoe bomber?) the French are clearly not up to speed!

5th Dec 2004, 14:49
I agree with ABird747.

Was this stuff even labeled as an explosive? Would someone even know their clothes had been exposed to an explosive that should set off detectors? The guards at most government sites carry guns, and can be very uptight about security.

Even if they had remembered to remove the explosive, that passenger could still trigger security alarms. I can imagine trying to explain to someone with a gun that you have "no idea" why you set off the explosives detector.

surely not
5th Dec 2004, 15:34
Agree fully PaxBoy that they should have recorded the bag tag number and other details such as Flt No. and destination, this would have enabled them to find the bag without any fuss at all.

Basic procedure I would have thought.

With regard to your clothes 'smelling' of explosive. If they have been anywhere near polythene wrapping they will be suspect.

With regard to the over zealous security alleged to inhabit the USA, you can't blame the French for that!

5th Dec 2004, 17:46
Rather worryingly - if you have a bag that tests positive for explosives residue it doesn't always cause much inconvenience.

I had a bag test positive at a Eurostar terminal (no idea why). I was asked a couple of questions, a form was filled out, and I was on my way. I guess I just didn't look like the sort of person who would carry a bomb.

The bag was not even searched a second time after the postive result!!!

What is the point in doing these tests if the results are just ignored?

Robert Vesco
5th Dec 2004, 17:48
I had a bag test positive at a Eurostar terminal (no idea why). Well...now you know why! ;)

Spearing Britney
5th Dec 2004, 18:16
From the BBC, the French authorities have failed to trace the misplaced plastic explosive and as a result have moved their country's alert status to the third highest possible...

The only two higher levels are collaboration and surrender...


5th Dec 2004, 18:26
A colleauge of mine managed to set off the explosives detector in Houston, turned out there were traces of explosive residue in his case, no idea how they got there. He is now on some watch list and is given the full treatment every time he goes to the US.

6th Dec 2004, 03:39
Questions: has the suitcase (I understand it was a piece of checked luggage) been located in the meantime, if yes, where? Is the owner aware / informed about what happened to his / her property?

Doug the Head
6th Dec 2004, 05:27
Incredible! I canīt believe those idiots didnīt even write down the destination and description of the bag in which they planted the explosives!

Flying to (and across) France has never been my favorite, but this has added even more doubt to the level of professionalism in French aviation!

6th Dec 2004, 06:42
BTW plastic explosive is actually a very unstable material. Place it in hot conditions allow the waxy like subtance to run then give this trickle a smack.... Kblam!!!!! Just to say the more of the stuff is together as one the safer it is from impacts... ODD!!!

6th Dec 2004, 08:00
Was the name of the french policeman "Louis de Funes" ???


6th Dec 2004, 08:02
It's been reported that the plastic explosives were put into a zipped pocket of a small (50-60 cm long) blue bag that had no name tag. Still no excuse for not using the flight tag info for identification first.

6th Dec 2004, 08:36
French police said the explosives were harmless and there was no chance of their going off, since no detanators were connected to them.
Presumably this excuse will now be valid for any suspect caught with explosives in their possesion.

I trust the head of the appropriate French security force is now contemplating his final pay cheque this morning.

6th Dec 2004, 10:15
It's not the dogs that need training. Tt would be quite simple to narrow the search down. What was the time when they first intercepted the bag? Disregard all passengers after that time (+ an hour); establish who checked in during the period of say 1 hour before plus all transit passengers. Ask check in staff if they can remember a blue bag, then check passenger lists and cctv.

To say that it can be "anywhere" is too simple and indicates complacency.

Doug the Head
6th Dec 2004, 14:19
Was the name of the french policeman "Louis de Funes" ??? Na, I heard it was Inspector Clouseau! :)

surely not
6th Dec 2004, 15:17
Hey Sky 9, you should rename yourself Cloud 9!!!

'Ask check in staff if they can remember a blue bag, then check passenger lists and cctv.'

You are not being serious are you? Have you ever looked at the bags being checked in when you travel on holiday or position? There are loads of blue bags on every flight!! Plus a check-in agent has so many other functions to carry out in addition to the basic checking-in of a pax (security checks, passport checks, assessing the health of the pax, visa checks etc) that they couldn't be expected to remember a bulk standard blue bag!!

Just checked your profile, you're a pilot!!

cargo boy
6th Dec 2004, 15:17
M. Tulouse, perhaps you just need a sense of humour transplant! You don't appear to be able to make up your mind as to whether the comments that have so offended you are "anti-French" or "Racist". By highlighting your lack of understanding of those remarks and the context that they have been made in only serves to perpetuate your discomfort. Now you have given credence to the posters who have used humour, misleadingly or not, by diverging this thread into what inevitably becomes a "I'm more xenophobic than you" argument.

I therefore suggest that the people who "supposedly" run PPrune ban you for thread drift and a total inability to understand that some peoples sense of humour is just not the same as yours. I'll probably get banned myself for "supposedly" moderating this thread and giving you a telling off. :{

Vive la difference!

PS. Edited to mention that I have no blood ties with anyone who has cracked a few jokes about the French or anyone else for that matter.

6th Dec 2004, 16:34
This kind of mistake can happen elsewhere. :E
Security exercise blunder leaves man with TNT (http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1084074867203_8/?hub=TopStories)

Good point, in this case "luggage" took the correct direction by exiting the airport in a...car!

Check 6
6th Dec 2004, 18:48
Reuter's story (http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=7006960)

Check 6


6th Dec 2004, 19:35
LOS ANGELES, California -- Authorities searched an Air France airliner at Los Angeles International Airport early Saturday for explosives that disappeared during a French police training exercise at an airport outside Paris, officials said.

No explosives were found on Flight 70, which arrived late Friday after a flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Three other airliners that had left Charles de Gaulle were searched at New York City's John F. Kennedy International, said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Norm Brewer.

French military police had been using the explosive material to train dogs to detect bombs, but they lost track of a piece of luggage containing an unspecified type and amount of explosive, authorities said.

The 362 passengers and crew members on Flight 70 were evacuated and screened.

Someone has some explaining to do.
:sad: :E

7th Dec 2004, 08:34
Just back in Europe from Logan Via La Guardia then JFK. At each point of my return journey my 4 suitcases were wiped on the handles for, I presume, explosives residues by US security guards. Just imagine this unsuspecting passenger's blue bag had not been lost and the Frenchies had recovered the errant explosive. Obviously he/she could have been travelling to the US (since they are checking flights at LAX) so on returning he/she would have shown positive for explosive residues. Imagine the passenger was e.g. a Palestinian, an Afgan or Saudi (They had no way of knowing in CDG) what their life would be like afterwards! I hope they find the explosive and the passenger sues the hell out of the French government. If it was me, I would wait a while, tell the press, give the French authorities back their Semtex and immediately claim something really expensive had gone missing from my side zipped pocket!

7th Dec 2004, 09:54
I recall a story several years ago now of an Aussie opening his suitcase in the UK to find a bag of cocaine with "property of UK police" or some such stuff on it.

That kind of incompetence really gets up my nose.

Check 6
7th Dec 2004, 18:11
Consider this possibility, the French Airport Police do not confess to the missing plastique. The passenger is then arrested at JFK not knowing the explosive is in his bag.

Pax: "Honest Mr. TSA official, I had no idea how that got in my luggage."

TSA: "Right, that is what they all say! Book 'em Danno."

Check 6


7th Dec 2004, 19:40
Did you know the French saying?

"More stupid than one policeman..............?"


7th Dec 2004, 20:39
Do you know why policemen patrols are always made of 3 ?

- one can speak , another can read, and the other love to be with intellectuals :D

personnal advice : lost something looking like a piece of wax, at charles de gaule airport, about 1 lb, the object has been left in another's passenger's luggage.
thank you to bring it back.
I am very attached to that object that has nothing but a sentimental value.

16th Dec 2004, 14:32
Interesting. I was insulted criticising some Anti French comments made on this thread, I then erased my posts myself to stop the ridiculouse comments. I've just seen on CNN that a similar indient has taken place in which during a training session a fake bomb was lost by security at Newark airport and was later rediscovered in Amsterdam... Are you going to blame the French for this?

16th Dec 2004, 14:39
As I said, it can happen elsewhere :E

16th Dec 2004, 14:48
Don't be silly Toulouse! Of course the French will be blamed.

Since this BB is mostly frequented by limeys, who, as we all know, are genetically disposed to gratuitous bashing of anything French, you really should know better than to ask such a question.

16th Dec 2004, 15:03
Just out of interest, have the French explosives been located yet?

16th Dec 2004, 15:04

Comments of that type, be it anti French or anti whatever just really bugger me off.

I suppose I should just shut up, as I'm probably only leading them on.

Anyway, here's to happy holdidays for all! :)


I haven\'t heard if they\'ve located the French explosives yet... that story went rather quiet!?
Can you imagine the face on the person when they found that in their luggage

16th Dec 2004, 15:30
Well, look who's done it now.

Link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4101201.stm)

16th Dec 2004, 16:23
You steamchicken!

Or you will be put on the grill!