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With the recent false alerts such as the Seas of David and the Canadian Terror Plot in June and July of this year respectively, immediate flags went up when hearing about the liquid terror cell that was allegedly foiled in Great Britain. With such a challenge as turning the plane lavatory into a mini chemical lab to cook TATP explosives, the question is could they have pulled it off?

An article by Thomas C. Greene looks into the plausibility of such a plan:

We're told that the suspects were planning to use TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, a high explosive that supposedly can be made from common household chemicals unlikely to be caught by airport screeners. A little hair dye, drain cleaner, and paint thinner - all easily concealed in drinks bottles - and the forces of evil have effectively smuggled a deadly bomb onboard your plane.

Or at least that's what we're hearing, and loudly, through the mainstream media and its legions of so-called "terrorism experts." But what do these experts know about chemistry? Less than they know about lobbying for Homeland Security pork, which is what most of them do for a living. But they've seen the same movies that you and I have seen, and so the myth of binary liquid explosives dies hard.  

More about Triacetone Triperoxide or TATP :

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.

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.

And now turning the lavvie into a lab:

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.

I encourage readers to link to Mr. Greene's entire article.

The idea of 21 jihadists on 10 planes flying over the Atlantic all simultaneously trying to cook up TATP in the bathrooms is an image that I find hard to swallow. Even a hollywood film screenwriter would find it a bit too fantastic.

There are far easier methods to instill terror that don't require sneaking through airport security and cooking chemicals in a 3 foot by 3 foot bathroom.

This is not to say that there aren't real threats to our security -- and there are cases of bomb assembly in plane bathrooms such as in the case of Philippines Flight 434.

The difference being that on Flight 434 the explosive was liquid nitroglycerin, which did not require any mixing. Only assembling the detonator and timer was done in the lavatory. It should also be pointed out that although the bomb did go off as planned, there were only 10 people injured with one fatality and the plane safely landed one hour later.

Ramzi Yousef who assembled the bomb on Flight 434 is better known for his hand in the WTC Bombing in 1993 is a dangerous man with strong ties to Al-Qaeda and is hardly in the same category as many of the alleged terrorists they we have seen arrested recently.

So why are we seeing such a high number of false arrests and terror plots that have no hard evidence such as bombs or bomb making material? Obviously there is a push by officials in our British and U.S. Governments to keep us scared and in fear.

But there is another element here too, that is not being addressed and that is the old "CYA" -- cover your ass. With publicity of foiled terror plots we are given the impression that our government is working hard to protect us and beating Al-Qaeda. But we are constantly told that we have to be successful every time and they only have to be successful once.  

The false terrorism arrests are deliberately designed to ratchet up the numbers of "caught" terrorists so that when the real thing hits they'll be able to claim how hard they worked but that one was destined to slip through. This is a point that we must all understand for it's not just fear they are pushing. It is deliberate deceit of the effectiveness of our Homeland Security.

This is why we cannot allow this nonsense to continue and we must say -- BOLLOCKS!

Originally posted to secretchimp99 on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:49 AM PDT.

Poll

Do You Believe the Liquid Terror Plot Was a Significant Threat?

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| 65 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  If this is a false plot... (0+ / 0-)

    ...then why did British authorities, with their high evidentiary standards, charge 11 of the suspects this afternoon?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    •  bRITISH pOLICE HAVE HIGH EVIDENTIARY STANDARDS!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lysias, Tanya

      British Police do as they are told mate.

      "machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men" Charlie Chaplin "The Great Dictator"

      by Boru on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:46:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So they found Hydrogen Peroxide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tanya

      I have some of that in the medicine cabinet as do most people. I want to see more details ...

      And not sure why they needed 400 computers.

      "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Schopenhauer

      by secretchimp99 on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:50:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Those would be the same evidentiary standards (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tanya, secretchimp99

        ...that led them to knock down and murder with multiple shots to the head an clearly unarmed and defenseless man on the London subway, and then exculpate themselves from all blame for it?

    •  Because it's too soon for the story to change (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ckntfld

      yet another false terror threat to divert everyone from the real news

      To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

      by Tanya on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:54:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  weren't they charged with conspiracy??? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tanya

      Ya know, I could conspire to train a monkey to harm our President.  Is it feasible that it would happen?  Absolutely not.  It's laugable.  

      But it's still a plot, and there's a conspiracy to ATTMEPT to do harm.  That's what (I think) they were charged with.  These charges in no way come close to validating the concieveability of this ridiculously improbable plot.

      Republican recruitment for the 82nd Chairborne at an all-time high...

      by topicalstorm on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:55:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Check that - Scream BOLLOCKS! (0+ / 0-)

    "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Schopenhauer

    by secretchimp99 on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:43:49 AM PDT

  •  There's been myriad of diaries, comments... (9+ / 0-)

    ...and such about this, but I'll say it again.

    From a chemist's point of view--one CANNOT make this stuff on a plane.  It's not possible.  Peroxide is ridiculously unstable and reactive.  A bomb big enough to detonate a plane IS NOT POSSIBLE by mixing sports drink-sized amounts of liquids.

    One could cause a BANG, and probably a fire, if they, say, flushed sodium in the lavoratory, or dropped it in a water bottle full of water.  They could produce cyanide gas using KCN and HCl, but oxygen masks would easily prevent mass deaths.  And God forbid they go all Diet Coke and Menthos on us...

    This is akin to Bush telling us that Russia will direct a meteor to fall on the US.  The gullible idiots and pantswetters would flock to the bunkers, while astronomers would be laughing at such bullshit.  Well, that what us chemists are now doing...laughing at this bullshit plot.

    Republican recruitment for the 82nd Chairborne at an all-time high...

    by topicalstorm on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 08:50:24 AM PDT

    •  thanks for comment (0+ / 0-)

      was wondering when somebody would point out that this has been diared to death.

    •  And also for this priceless observation: (0+ / 0-)

      And God forbid they go all Diet Coke and Menthos on us...

      I've refrained from commenting on this, since I'm more of an environmental chemist and don't know anything about making explosives, but the supposed plot never really passed the sniff test for me either.

      "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)

      by ShowMe Indie on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 09:47:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Proof that banning all liquids is a joke (0+ / 0-)

    This plot was so implausable that the chances of even one being success is close to none. You think they're going to let someone stay in the bathroom for hours while toxic fumes are arising from that area? The media doesn't want to question how improbable this whole plot is. I'm not saying these guys didn't want to comit terrorist attacks, just that they chose a way which would ensure near 0% chance of success. And apparently now it's going to be hard to change all of them because of the Bush adminstration wanting an early arrest when they clearly weren't going to be a threat for the time being.

  •  Why are you calling ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... the Canadian plot a 'false alert'?  Did I miss something?

  •  The Brits have called Bullshit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    secretchimp99

    not only is this chemically, highly improbable, but the true story about just how thin the whole shebang was, is coming out.

    "The Briton alleged to be the ‘mastermind’ behind the airline terror plot could be innocent of any significant involvement, sources close to the investigation claim."

    How much you wanna bet we won't be getting any flashy graphics about this, especially when some pedophile is getting his 15 minutes, thanks to an anemic MSM news cycle.Link

  •  IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT? (0+ / 0-)

    For those of you that don't have a clue, I'll give you one.

    Having worked with explosives for over 35 years I can tell you that there are liquids that look very innocent and can blow the side of a plane out. Of course, I will not name any of these products, but THEY ARE VERY INNOCENT LOOKING.

    One in particular that I have used many times looks just like cherry juice, or any other red colered drink, and a quart Gatorade bottle of this stuff is equivalent to 4 nitro sticks of explosives. One bottle set off on each side of the airliner will mean that you have a very good chance of going down due to structural damage. Especially over the wings where the majority of a plane's strength lies.

    You say that you still need a detonator? All it takes is one electric cap and a 9 volt radio battery. A battery is no problem what-so-ever. A cap would be very easy to disguise and hide in your carry-on luggage, in your shoe, up your ass, anywhere a small object can be hidden. There is such a small amount of metal in a cap that the detectors used by the TSA might not even pick it up. But, if disguised and carried in your luggage, laptop, or other bags that people insist on taking on the plane with them, it would probably escape detection altogether.

    The danger is real people. Instead of being "re-active", like our law enforcement has to be, we need to be "pro-active" and stop terrorists BEFORE they kill innocent civilians. After all, it could be YOUR ass on that plane. Which way do you want it?

    •  How about (0+ / 0-)

      smuggling Octol or Comp B on board too.

      "I will not name any of these products."  You fraud.  Take your tool butt back to freeperland.

      P.S.  That detonator that you want to stick up your butt?  Please do.

    •  name them (0+ / 0-)

      name the compounds, Dr. Chemist.  Please do.

      Otherwise I call bullshit.

      Republican recruitment for the 82nd Chairborne at an all-time high...

      by topicalstorm on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 11:25:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For 35 years? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Balam

      In this comment, you said you're 51 years old.  If you've been working with explosives for 35 years, that would mean one of two things:

      1. You started at age 16, which isn't legal work anywhere in the U.S., or
      1. You're making it up.

      I'm inclined towards the latter.  Not sure why you're participating in Daily Kos at all, because your stated goals and opinions are not in line with this blog's purpose.

      It's not a Freedom of Speech issue, because it's a private business.  The owner says it's for promoting the election of Democratic candidates.  It's pretty clear (through your own assertions) that you don't share that goal.

      Either you're a glutton for punishment, or you intend to disrupt.  Time will tell.  You certainly don't take the kind of tone which will help change anyone's mind towards your view of things.

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