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Yemeni Aircraft Bomb Plot Foiled

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Yemeni Aircraft Bomb Plot Foiled

Old 1st Nov 2010, 13:11
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Ground to air phoning

My first thought was say goodbye to the increasing comms opportunities for pax and do I own shares in companies making phone jammers. Second thought was hang on, a phone, in a parcel, in a pallet, in a metal tube is unlikely to ring isn't it ?

Also, if up to tricks, why use anything other than an anodyne unremarkable destination address, why even a real one, unless, of course that's where you wanted them to go.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 13:53
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There is something exceptionally "iffy" about all of this. There is no way on this planet you could just stuff 100g of PETN into a cartridge without it detonating, or it would just decompose, there is plenty of alcohol in even an empty cartridge.

Secondly, there is the volume issue, I don't think you could actually fit it in there, PETN has a density of 1.73, I'm pretty sure you cannot fit 100g in a printer cartridge.

Thirdly, the detonation. How was it to be achieved? Mobile phone? On an aircraft? And I mean if they were going to detonate it over a city, why make it suspicious by addressing it to a synagogue. You may as well have addressed it to the Whitehouse.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 14:01
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Ok, I'm just about to head off to the lab with an empty cartridge. I shall fill it with something nice and safe around that density, and then come back with the weights.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 14:05
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Ex CC

Putty would do perhaps. Also I wouldn't be quite as sanguine about the effects of a quarter of a pound although its been a while.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 14:05
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Did I hear correctly on the BBC Today programme this morning that (irrespective of the viability of the supposed device) the one found in Dubai was on a Qatar Airways flight and had already travelled 2 legs as freight in the hold of pax carrying Qatari flights to get from Yemen to Dubai ?
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 14:37
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And the answer is 22g into a Canon printer cartridge, with something that has the density of PETN.

So where has the 100g figure come from? I couldn't even blow my nose, never mind an airliner down with 20-ish of PETN. That's not even taking into account of how you would then stick the far denser lead azide in, without detonating it.

Something is not adding up here, it was never going to be detonated onboard the aircraft. It's just not enough, PETN is easily hidden in large quantites, so if you were taking a city out, do it that way.

And then again, if you were going to kill the unfortunate user of the ink cartridge, then why put a mobile phone detonater into the package? You could get it to go with just the electric from the printer. I assume that was the plan, nothing to do with aircraft terrorism, so why this mobile phone bit?

Occam's Razor suggests there is more to this than meets the eye.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 14:48
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Occam's Razor suggests there is more to this than meets the eye.
Agreed. Would the actual 'stuff' explode or catch fire? If the latter, and it had got through, then burning down synagogues by remote control could have attractions for the bad guys. Very Low Risk v High Satisfaction Return.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 14:49
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Try supposing that the cartridge was a laser cartridge which is a great deal larger.

I was surprised to read in the Guardian
"One official told the Guardian that the bomb inside a computer printer discovered at East Midlands airport on Friday, en route from Yemen to Chicago, was "one of the most sophisticated we've seen The naked eye won't pick it up, experienced bomb officers did not see it, x-ray screening is highly unlikely to catch it.""

Are we really to believe than an X-Ray screening wouldn't pick up the amateur electrical modifications with the mobile phone circuit board attached to the other board by the use of wires (tailstrikecharlie)?

I would be interested to know whether the mobile phone companies tracked the mobile as is passed over the whole of Europe being passed from cell to cell at 600 MPH.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 15:03
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I would be interested to know whether the mobile phone companies tracked the mobile as is passed over the whole of Europe being passed from cell to cell at 600 MPH.
I very much doubt it, plus what would be the point? Imagine it on a pax aircraft, anyone may have left it on.

Strangely, the "terrorists" have caused more problems than they would have if the "bombs" had actually gone off.

You cannot screen cargo or pax for that matter at the first instance. It needs profiling. I'm sure you or I, or most of the board could take all manner of silliness onboard, but we don't.

The TSA, for all their ills at least have a bit of common sense. I travelled there with a rucksack that had previously had all manner of organic-nitro compounds in it. I keep my labcoat in it. Did I get stopped from travelling, no. Why? Because I clearly didn't fit that profile. I just had a joke with them, and then got on the flight (RNO by the way).
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 15:20
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It was an HP laserjet or similar wasn't it

looked like a toner cartridge to me. Can't see how an xray screener has much hope without exceptional scrutiny.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 15:32
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I will have a go at a toner cartridge then, although having seen one, my instinct tells me, it is going to be nowhere near 100g.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 15:38
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isn't there an easier way ?

TonerTopUp toner refills simply refill your Hewlett-Packard COLOR LASERJET 4700dn 30PPM COLOR PTR laser cartridge.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 15:50
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Ok, tried that, yes you can get 100g, just about, of high explosive into them, but no way on this planet would anyone be mad enough to then stuff in some lead azide.

I'd try it, but I'm not entirely sure how I would COSHH it.

Pre-screening is the answer, both for pax and freight.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 16:05
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Dial tone?

pondering...

Wonder how many pages they get out of refilled toner cartridges...

Probably would clear the paper jams...

A breach of DGR's... someone gonna get it for the paperwork? I mean, carrying 1.1's on a pax plane.... no Class 1 label... no CAO label, no NOTOC... what is the point of those months of accumulated study on ICAO Annex 18, Doc 9284 TI's and IATA's DGR if de-gruntled people just up and disregard the rules. Next someone will say the JAA exams are not grounded in reality. And it is probably a telecoms breach to mess with the phone, forget abut voiding the warranty.... of course the phone probably was registered for warranty though... (remember the guys getting their deposit back from the rental truck... WTC round 1?).

Of course next time someone turns on their cell phone on board a plane and happens to be profusely sweating, there is gonna be a riot, just like Mr Reid's defective shoes..... Probably just cured the RFI problem. Thanks.

Just as well that the mex'cans don't include wire with their white powder imports to the US of A, would put the drug trade in a poor light. Just as well the DEA has such a great handle on the trade.

Would anyone answer if they tried a reverse call?

With intel this good, perhaps the cavity search of pilots etc is just for fun after all.

Could be a new cargo opportunity placing underfloor freight on hajj flights, would reduce the risk considerably. A growth opportunity for Saudia and Qatar, Etihad, and Emirates?

Assuming the AQ reads these pages or watches CNNN & BBBC, guess the next address will be to a Mosque near the WTC site just to throw the sleuths off the scent....

Security was, is and will always be about having a program that sequences through it's operational cycle faster than the other guy.... (+ luck). The defences of the western world are hampered (well... a bit... not as much as before the "Patriot Act"...) by the very differences to the world of the device forwarders. Do the bad guys win when the rest of the world becomes as ruthless and backward as them and their benefactors, the Taliban? Odd deliverable...

3rd rock, what a place.

Just gets better and better


FDR


PS: Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri the ostensible bomb maker, is of course the one who provided the oompf for his brothers rapid ascension to the promised land, courtesy of a bottom load of PETN. Brotherly love. When he is apprehended, suggest the feds don't shake his hand, you know where it has been...

PPS: al-Asiri, thanks for the cavity checks....

Last edited by fdr; 1st Nov 2010 at 16:42.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 16:33
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Everyone seems to be hung up on this particular set of devices. My guess is that this was a test. A number of different designs (in packaging, shipment and destination) were sent. Those that make the news are the designs that will be discarded. The design that no one catches will be used in the real attack, which will occur anywhere between now and 5 years. Don't ever underestimate the intelligence or patience of your enemy.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 16:38
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Toner cartridges banned in pax bags from midnight , well we can travel safely now!
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 17:50
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Why the hell would the tracking number be useful in an operational sense?
Perhaps to help find the IP address of the computers used to track the packages on-line?
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 18:23
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If they were intended for use against aircraft, then why weren't they detonated?
It would be perceived as a rather different message (albeit small from some perspectives) should an in-bound US flight get blown out of the sky, versus one just leaving Yemen for example.

- GY
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 19:00
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This exercise was not intended to blow a cargo airliner out of the sky. Nor was it intended to blow up a synagogue, for what should be obvious reasons.

This was an exercise. A well published exercise at that. It's intent was met.

The senders of the "package" had no idea on how it would be routed with the ultimate destination being the U.S.

They know now. Exactly.

And will probably plan their next action based on what they've learned. Using different routings.

No conspiracy involved. No tin-foil hats need be donned. It's tradecraft, pure and simple.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 19:12
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rgbrock1

This exercise was not intended to blow a cargo airliner out of the sky. Nor was it intended to blow up a synagogue, for what should be obvious reasons.

This was an exercise. A well published exercise at that. It's intent was met.

The senders of the "package" had no idea on how it would be routed with the ultimate destination being the U.S.

They know now. Exactly.

And will probably plan their next action based on what they've learned. Using different routings.

No conspiracy involved. No tin-foil hats need be donned. It's tradecraft, pure and simple.
One can interpret as many messages in this act as one believes or wants somebody else to believe.

I for one agree 100% with what rgbrock1 has said.

To me its like the kid shaking up his ant farm toy to watch how confused the ants react before setling down to the business as usual approach of rebuilding the damage.
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