View Full Version : RPG Launcher on BA flight

30th Apr 2003, 22:43
Interesting snippet in Private Eye this week (No 1079 page 3)about a 4 hr delay on a London Washington flight when the luggage of a US journalist returning from "active duty" in the Gulf was found to contain a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. "Remarkably he wasn’t charged" writes PE.

Iron City
1st May 2003, 00:09
Launcher with no round in it is a pipe and battery. So long as it doesn't have laser stuff etc in it it is no more hazardous than a DVD player.

Onan the Clumsy
1st May 2003, 00:53
Ok, I'll say it...he probably has an inalinable right to carry an RPG launcher.

Faire d'income
1st May 2003, 03:30
Does it not qualify as 'Munitions of war'?

Launcher with no round in it is a pipe and battery. So long as it doesn't have laser stuff etc in it it is no more hazardous than a DVD player.

If another passenger was found carrying just a round for an RPG launcher you could say it was useless without the launcher and therefore harmless. But if they were together....

I am amazed he wasn't charged with a variety of offences. If he was an Arab it would be a different story. Haven't we seen people arrested for using lipstick on lavatory mirrors?

Imagine the terror if he produced it pretending it was loaded. At the very best this journalist was spectaculary irresponsible!

Colonel Blink
1st May 2003, 08:36
And what if he was travelling with someone else who were carrying the ammo - then it would be conceivably a useable weapon - should have been sent to chokey.

1st May 2003, 10:28
An interesting post, sky9, which raises some equally interesting points, IMHO.

The Eye article is incomplete, and therefore perhaps unfair, as it does not identify the carrier by which the "in-transit" journalist arrived at LHR. Even if it were BA, the first point that emerges is that LHR security discovered the offending item, and therefore would be deserving of praise rather than the criticism implied in the piece.

It does not specify which item of his "luggage" contained the launcher. I find it almost unimaginable that it would have been in his hand luggage out of anywhere these days ---- even the Gulf! It must surely have been in his checked baggage and therefore top marks to LHR security for such thorough screening of transit bags (a source of previous bomb tragedies).

Following the above assumption, the launcher would not have been available to him in flight and therefore did not constitute an immediate security threat. As he was not trying to smuggle it into the UK - which would have indeed been a criminal act - no charges were pressed, although I tend to sympathise with Faire d'income's comment re nationality. Whether or not US Customs in Washington take a more liberal view on "personal" RPG launchers than do we Brits is another matter! It found its way "on to British soil," but it did not find its way out.

Interestingly, the article immediately above the one referred to concerned the much-publicised looting of the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad. This item ends, ". . . .when customs officers in the US recovered 12 stolen Iraqi paintings. They were found in the luggage of Benjamin Johnson, an employee of the Times's sister company, Fox News Network, as he returned from covering the war in Iraq."

I feel sure that both these incidents were in the interest of the highest moral standards of investigative journalism and that, once the facts are revealed, we will see that they were upholding the finest traditions of their profession. "Shurely shome mishtake?" as they sometimes say in Private Eye.

1st May 2003, 11:38
The news media in the U.S. consider themselves somewhat above the law that common citizens are subject to. They routinely publish classified information and consider themselves heroes for doing it.

Poor Benjamin Johnson and didn't know smuggling looted art was against the law according to his attorney Chris Amolsch. I'm sure he will claim he was conducting his own investigation of U.S. Customs procedures and cry freedom of the press.

More media smuggling with pictures here:


1st May 2003, 18:18
If another passenger was found carrying just a round for an RPG launcher you could say it was useless without the launcher and therefore harmless. But if they were together

whilst i agree that the launcher with no round is useless surely the round its self is high explosive and therfore a danger with or without the launcher!!

Iron City
1st May 2003, 21:46
The RPG round itself with rocket motor and warhead with sundry ignition devices etc is indoubtedly a dangerous thing to be carrying around and an explosive, and certainly against the rules to just carry on an airliner, at least in the U.S.
There are some provisions for exceptions to allow "minor league" explosives such as small calibre conventional ammunition, pyrotechnics, etc in small quantities to be carried, but those are very special situations with military, etc and you don't even want to know who must approve the exceptions.

As far as carrying on an airliner in the U.S. the empty launcher would probably be looked at very carefully and likely would be confiscated the same way an hidden, unloaded firearm would be.

Previous post was a little flippant, forgot everyone had their sense of humor safety wired off on or about 9/11/01

Agaricus bisporus
2nd May 2003, 00:16
In Ireland milkchurn is a weapon if it is stuffed with gravel and scrap iron and PE, empty it is still just a milkchurn.

My POMZ grenade is a nasty anti-personnel weapon but with the charge and det left in a desert 4000 miles away it is just a souveneir. So thought the customs man at LHR anyway.

Lets apply a bit of common sense to this, a RPG tube is little more than a picturesque drainpipe, and given the relative unavailability of RPG rounds in the US (as opposed to plastic, scrap iron and gravel) just about as dangerous.

Captain Stable
2nd May 2003, 02:58
A rifle or pistol without ammunition is still a rifle or pistol.

2nd May 2003, 06:07
Another journalist war trophy that didn't get out of the airport:

One Killed in Jordan Airport Explosion


Filed at 1:28 p.m. ET

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- A bag exploded near the luggage screening area at Jordan's international airport Thursday evening, killing a security guard, authorities said.

Police arrested the suspected owner of the bag, a Japanese journalist who told authorities he had no knowledge that he an explosive device in his possession, said officials involved in the investigation.

The man detained at Queen Alia International Airport had arrived from Baghdad, said CNN correspondent Rula Amin, who was at the airport when the bag exploded.

"He told me, 'It's not me; it's not me,''' Amin said.

The official Petra news agency said three other people were injured. It called the bomb a "remnant from the war in Iraq.''

The bag was checked on an EgyptAir flight to Cairo, Egypt, the officials said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Panic ensued after the blast at the busy airport, where passengers were either being checked in or departing to various destinations, including France, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Queen Alia airport was one of the targets of a terrorist conspiracy foiled in November 1999. The plot involved 28 Arab men who planned attacks on U.S. and Israeli targets in Jordan during millennium celebrations. Jordan military court in 2000 convicted six of the accused to death and acquitted six others.