10 August 2006

Bojinka Redux

For those who need it, today's thwarted a terrorist plot is a wakeup call that we are at war.

A war in which the enemies' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and to make no distinction among military and civilians. A reminder that fighting this war will be a lengthy series of battles and campaigns on all fronts and will be unlike any other we have ever fought.

Terrorists often use the same or similar plans more than once, adding refinements. Or, target the same places with increasingly sophisticated methods. The 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center as unfinished business completed on 9/11 come to mind.

Similarly, terrorist plans to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage are not new. This particular plot sounds very much like 1995's foiled Operation Bojinka, masterminded and funded by now-familiar names like Usama bin Laden, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Wikipedia has extensive information.

The next plan would have involved at least five Al-Qaeda operatives, including Yousef, Khan, Shah and two more unknown operatives.

Starting on January 21, 1995 and ending on January 22, 1995, they would set the bombs on 11 United States-bound airliners that had stopovers all around East Asia and Southeast Asia. All of the flights had two legs. The bombs would be planted inside life jackets under seats on the first leg, when each bomber would disembark. He would then board one or two more flights and repeat. After all of the bombers planted bombs on all of the flights, each man would then catch flights to Lahore, Pakistan. The men never needed U.S. visas, as they only would have stayed on the planes on their first legs in Asia.

United States airlines had been chosen instead of Asian airlines to maximize the shock toward Americans. ( ... )

The bombs would have been timed before the operatives stepped off the planes. The aircraft would have blown up over the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea almost simultaneously. If this plan worked, several thousand would have perished, and air travel would have been shut down worldwide for days, if not weeks. The U.S. government estimated the prospective death toll to be about 4,000 if the plot had been executed.

The "Mark II" "microbombs" had Casio digital watches as the timers, stabilizers that looked like cotton wool balls, and an undetectable nitroglycerin as the explosive.

Other ingredients included glycerin, nitrate, sulfuric acid, and minute concentrations of nitrobenzene, silver azide (silver trinitride), and liquid acetone. ( ... )

Yousef got batteries past airport security during his December 11 test bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 by hiding them in hollowed-out heels of his shoes.

Yousef smuggled the nitroglycerin on board by putting it inside a contact lens solution bottle.

Fortunately, we are more aware than we were before 9/11. Unfortunately, it took 9/11 to do so, in spite of successful attacks by Islamofascist terrorists stretching back over more than 20 years.

Good on the Brits for rolling this up. The intel take should be substantial.

Update, related:
London Airline Bombing Plot News
Al-Qaida's Use of "Liquid Bombs" Targeting Airliners
All from the Counterterrorism Blog.
And The threat level of jihad at Michelle Malkin, including some interesting polls results on attitudes about terrorism among Muslims.

Thanks to the Greyhawks of the Mudville Gazette, now living in a happy place.

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