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The news last summer was about a plot hatched in the U.K. where approximately 24 co-conspirators were going to use a binary-liquid explosive to blow up many airplanes in mid-flight. The co-conspirators were arrested as they were beginning to search the internet for flights leaving at approximately the same time to coordinate the explosions.

The explosive identified was either TADP or HMTD or maybe TCAP. No one source has been definitive on the actual explosive to be used. But was it a real threat?

The FBI found that liquids on airplanes are not at dangerous as they previously thought. That revelation was September 26, 2006, when the original story was dated August 11, 2006. It is strange that the FBI explosive experts wouldn’t already be aware that the liquids were not that dangerous.

Some people say the threat of mixing two liquids to blow up a plane is very real and should be guarded against. Other people say that there is no credible threat of people bringing liquids on board and mixing them into a bomb, specifically TADP, HMTD, or TCAP. Here are some of the details about what would make it so difficult:

Better killing through chemistry

Making a quantity of TATP sufficient to bring down an airplane is not quite as simple as ducking into the toilet and mixing two harmless liquids together.

First, you’ve got to get adequately concentrated hydrogen peroxide. This is hard to come by, so a large quantity of the three per cent solution sold in pharmacies might have to be concentrated by boiling off the water. Only this is risky, and can lead to mission failure by means of burning down your makeshift lab before a single infidel has been harmed.

But let’s assume that you can obtain it in the required concentration, or cook it from a dilute solution without ruining your operation. Fine. The remaining ingredients, acetone and sulfuric acid, are far easier to obtain, and we can assume that you’ve got them on hand.

Now for the fun part. Take your hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and sulfuric acid, measure them very carefully, and put them into drinks bottles for convenient smuggling onto a plane. It’s all right to mix the peroxide and acetone in one container, so long as it remains cool. Don’t forget to bring several frozen gel-packs (preferably in a Styrofoam chiller deceptively marked “perishable foods”), a thermometer, a large beaker, a stirring rod, and a medicine dropper. You’re going to need them.

It’s best to fly first class and order Champagne. The bucket full of ice water, which the airline ought to supply, might possibly be adequate – especially if you have those cold gel-packs handy to supplement the ice, and the Styrofoam chiller handy for insulation – to get you through the cookery without starting a fire in the lavvie.

Easy does it

Once the plane is over the ocean, very discreetly bring all of your gear into the toilet. You might need to make several trips to avoid drawing attention. Once your kit is in place, put a beaker containing the peroxide / acetone mixture into the ice water bath (Champagne bucket), and start adding the acid, drop by drop, while stirring constantly. Watch the reaction temperature carefully. The mixture will heat, and if it gets too hot, you’ll end up with a weak explosive. In fact, if it gets really hot, you’ll get a premature explosion possibly sufficient to kill you, but probably no one else.

After a few hours – assuming, by some miracle, that the fumes haven’t overcome you or alerted passengers or the flight crew to your activities – you’ll have a quantity of TATP with which to carry out your mission. Now all you need to do is dry it for an hour or two.

The genius of this scheme is that TATP is relatively easy to detonate. But you must make enough of it to crash the plane, and you must make it with care to assure potency. One needs quality stuff to commit “mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson put it. While it’s true that a slapdash concoction will explode, it’s unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that’s about all you’re likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible. . . .

Mrs. Satan

By now you’ll be asking why these jihadist wannabes didn’t conspire simply to bring TATP onto planes, colored with a bit of vegetable dye, and disguised as, say, a powdered fruit-flavored drink. The reason is that they would be afraid of failing: TATP is notoriously sensitive and unstable. Mainstream journalists like to tell us that terrorists like to call it “the mother of Satan.” (Whether this reputation is deserved, or is a consequence of homebrewing by unqualified hacks, remains open to debate.) . . .

We asked University of Rhode Island Chemistry Professor Jimmie C. Oxley, who has actual, practical experience with TATP, if this is a reasonable assumption, and she tolds us that merely dumping the precursors together would create “a violent reaction,” but not a detonation.

This article is not an isolated opinion on the matter either. One of the major difficulties is that any two-part liquid explosives are already unstable in their component parts. TATP was the most often identified explosive of choice in the airline plot. There are other possible binary explosives such as Binex and Kinepak, but it mixes a solid and a liquid. The chemical formulations of the compounds are a trade secret and the manufacturers are very careful about who they sell to.

This story and the subsequent restrictions on liquids showed how people are obedient to orders from their government. In a poll released Sept. 1, 2006, 61% thought the liquid ban was necessary and almost one half of adults surveyed believed the restrictions should remain in place as long as the government deems it necessary.

There was the potential for the Republican party to benefit from the story. According to the stub of this
story
written prior to the 2004 Election (full story requires subscription), people with a subliminal fear of death will vote for charismatic leaders at election time. This story from 2006 in Psychology Today discusses a study about political attitudes and fear of death. It showed that people just thinking about death was enough to push their point of view more conservative at least temporarily. A reminder to think rationally was enough to pull people back to their views prior to thinking about death. The same study showed that people equate “WTC” and “9/11” with death. From the article:

When people were in a benign state of mind, they tended to oppose Bush and his policies in Iraq. But after thinking about either death or 9/11, they tended to favor him. Such findings were further corroborated by Cornell sociologist Robert Willer, who found that whenever the color-coded terror alert level was raised, support for Bush increased significantly, not only on domestic security but also in unrelated domains, such as the economy.

Or even support Pres. Bush in a mid-term election? It appears that the risk of using liquids on a plane to blow it up is actually very very small due to the operational difficulty of handling the materials properly prior to detonation. Some of these opinions against the idea of the plot were written within a couple of days of the story hitting the newswires. The FBI admitted 45 days later that the risk of liquid explosives was exaggerated. 45 days after that there was a mid-term election.

This blog has covered several topics that indicate our Government is not very trustworthy, for example our government does not want us to know the unflattering truth about the War in Iraq or Afghanistan, The Treatment of Military Women, U.S. Attorneys dismissed for political reasons, Billions of Dollars Stolen in Iraq, Governmental Spying on its’ citizens, and how Pres. Bush thinks the Constitution is “just a g– d— piece of paper”.

It is a true cliche that “In war, the first casualty is truth”. This has been called the “War on Terror” for over five years now. Credible scientific evidence shows that the story offered to the public for the binary liquid explosives cannot be true, but was the story purposely falsified for political reasons? The timing is certainly suspicious, being just three months out from the November elections. War coverage on the ground in Iraq has been censored for political reasons already. Is the larger war on terror next?

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