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View Full Version : Airplane terror plot thwarted


Jaguarsfan2004
August 10th, 2006, 06:50 AM
LONDON - British authorities said Thursday they thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the United States using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terrorists planned to use liquid explosives disguised as beverages and other common products and detonators disguised as electronic devices.

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Police arrested 21 people, saying they were confident they captured the main suspects in what U.S. officials said had the earmarks of an al-Qaida plot.

Officials raised security to its highest level in Britain and banned carry-on luggage on all trans-Atlantic flights. Huge crowds formed at security barriers at London's Heathrow airport as officials searching for explosives barred nearly every form of liquid outside of baby formula.

The extreme measures at a major international aviation hub sent ripples throughout the world. Heathrow was closed to most flights from Europe, and British Airways canceled all its flights between the airport and points in Britain, Europe and Libya. Numerous flights from U.S. cities to Britain were canceled.

Washington raised its threat alert to its highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States amid fears the plot had not been completely crushed. The alert for all flights coming or going from the United States was also raised slightly.

Two U.S. counterterrorism officials said the terrorists had targeted United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

A U.S. intelligence official said the plotters had hoped to target flights to major airports in New York, Washington and California.

British Home Secretary John Reid said the 21 people were arrested in London, its suburbs and Birmingham following a lengthy investigation, including the alleged "main players" in the plot. Searches continued in a number of locations.

The British Broadcasting Corp. said police were evacuating homes in High Wycombe, a town 30 miles northwest of London, near one of the houses being searched. Police refused to confirm the report or to discuss any details of the searches.

The suspects were "homegrown," though it was not immediately clear if they were all British citizens, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. Police were working closely with the South Asian community, the official said.

The official said the plotters intended to simultaneously target multiple planes bound for the United States.

"We think this was an extraordinarily serious plot and we are confident that we've prevented an attempt to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale," Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, vacationing in the Caribbean, briefed President Bush on the situation overnight.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush also had been briefed by his aides while at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he has been on vacation.

"We do believe the plot involved flights from the U.K. to the U.S. and was a direct threat to the United States," Snow said.

Chertoff, the homeland security chief, said the plot had the hallmarks of an operation planned by al-Qaida, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11 attack on the United States.

"It was sophisticated, it had a lot of members and it was international in scope. It was in some respects suggestive of an al-Qaida plot," Chertoff said, but he cautioned it was too early in the investigation to reach any conclusions.

It is the first time the red alert level in the Homeland Security warning system has been invoked, although there have been brief periods in the past when the orange level was applied. Homeland Security defines the red alert as designating a "severe risk of terrorist attacks."

"We believe that these arrests (in London) have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted," Chertoff said.

He added, however, there was no indication of current plots within the United States.

Chertoff said the plotters were in the final stages of planning. "We were really getting quite close to the execution phase," he said, adding that it was unclear if the plot was linked to the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities believe dozens of people — possibly as many as 50 — were involved in the plot. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The plan involved airline passengers hiding masked explosives in carry-on luggage, the official said. "They were not yet sitting on an airplane," but were very close to traveling, the official said, calling the plot "the real deal."

Passengers in Britain faced delays as tighter security was hastily enforced at the country's airports and additional measures were put in place for all flights. Laptop computers, mobile phones, iPods, and remote controls were among the items banned from being carried on board.

Liquids, such as hair care products, were also barred on flights in both Britain and the U.S.

In the mid-1990s, officials foiled a plan by terrorist mastermind Ramzi Youssef to blow up 12 Western jetliners simultaneously over the Pacific. The alleged plot involved improvised bombs using liquid hidden in contact lens solution containers.

Huge lines formed at ticket counters and behind security barriers at Heathrow and other airports in Britain.

Ed Lappen, 55, a businessman from Boston, who was traveling with his wife and daughter to Russia, found himself unable to travel further. "We're safe, we're OK," he said at Heathrow. "Now my daughter is going to get a shopping trip in London."

Hannah Pillinger, 24, seemed less concerned by the announcement. "Eight hours without an iPod, that's the most inconvenient thing," she said, waiting at the Manchester airport.

Most European carriers canceled flights to Heathrow because of the massive delays created after authorities enforced strict new regulations banning most hand baggage.

Tony Douglas, Heathrow's managing director, said the airport hoped to resume normal operations Friday, but passengers would still face delays and a ban on cabin baggage "for the foreseeable future."

"At this point in time it is unclear how long these restrictions will remain in place," he said.

Heathrow's block on incoming traffic applied to flights of three hours or less, affecting most of the incoming traffic from Europe, an airport spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with airport policy.

Officials at Frankfurt's airport, Europe's second-busiest, Schiphol in Amsterdam and Charles De Gaulle in Paris said Heathrow-bound planes could instead land at their airports if they needed to.

London's Heathrow airport was the departure point for a devastating terrorist attack on a Pan Am airplane on Dec. 21, 1988. The blast over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed all 259 people aboard Pan Am Flight 103 and 11 people on the ground.

The explosive was hidden in a portable radio secreted in checked baggage.

viridian doubletongue
August 10th, 2006, 07:18 AM
I'd just woke up in the morning to see this blasted over all the news channels.. It's a bit scary, but reassuring to know that the plot was thwarted.

I just feel sorry for all the unsuspecting passengers whose flights were cancelled.

Squeegee Beckenheim
August 10th, 2006, 09:12 AM
I am so thankful that they thwarted this. It would have been so horrible. I just hope that there is nothing else planned.

EmeraldSky
August 10th, 2006, 09:21 AM
Good thing they caught the bad guys quickly...we REALLY don't need another 9/11....

Cherrim
August 10th, 2006, 10:39 AM
Ugh...call me heartless, but I'm more concerned about airport security than this terrorism thing. Hopefully they won't put in carry-on restrictions everywhere, or on all US-bound flights. x_X; I'm flying (albeit within Canada) tomorrow and then on Tuesday I have a flight to the States. I don't want to have to suffer being on a plane with no laptop or even iPod. x_x;; That'd suck.

And that said, I can't imagine how boring a trans-Atlantic flight would be with no carry-on. o_O;

Chuchino
August 10th, 2006, 02:19 PM
It really put a pit in my stomach this morning when I heard about this.

At least they caught them before anything happened. Hopefully they can stop any plans in the works.

Lord Mike
August 10th, 2006, 02:29 PM
Ugh...call me heartless, but I'm more concerned about airport security than this terrorism thing. Hopefully they won't put in carry-on restrictions everywhere, or on all US-bound flights. x_X; I'm flying (albeit within Canada) tomorrow and then on Tuesday I have a flight to the States. I don't want to have to suffer being on a plane with no laptop or even iPod. x_x;; That'd suck.

And that said, I can't imagine how boring a trans-Atlantic flight would be with no carry-on. o_O;

Hate to break it to you, but that is heartless. People are being killed everyday by these guys and all you have to worry about is no eletronics on a stupid plane ride. That's selfish, and that's not an opinion.

Anyway, go Britian! They saved us!

*~Ashley~*
August 10th, 2006, 03:19 PM
My father works the night shift at the airport as a security guard/police thing, so that's how I heard about all this. He usually gets home around 8 in the morning, but today he didn't get home until 1:30 in the afternoon due to the alerts...

And Erica, I think it's just liquids that are being banned from carry ons. I could be wrong, but I don't think electronics will be banned. I really should ask my dad about it though... he'd know.

But yeah, I'm glad everything was resolved before something actually happened.

EmeraldSky
August 10th, 2006, 03:20 PM
Yeah, like I said, we REALLY don't need 9/11, part 2....

Lord Mike
August 10th, 2006, 03:58 PM
You proved your point EmeraldSky. :tired:

Well, I knew Britian was a good ally. We also got (US I mean) Austrailia and Japan, some of our best allies, as well as Israel, who we are trying help now or at least should be helping out. China isn't doing crap to stop North Korea, and stupid Lebanon lets in Hezballah and lets them shooting Israel, and when Lebanon gets shot they're like "Waaaaaa! Stop shooting me! What did I ever do you to?" like most of those crappy terrorist groups.

The world could be on the brink of World War III for all we know. Israel is doing their best to protect their puny country while some of our people were stupid enough to get in the middle of this conflict and go "Waaaaaaaaaa! Take we home mommy before I get vaproized by WMTs!" You know what, DON'T FRIKIN GO THEIR IN THE FIRST PLACE! I swear, trying not to insult my own country, but the intellegence of Americans today is practically microscopic went it comes to world affairs.

Anyway, you get the point. The world in general is screwed right now.

Have a nice day.

Aether
August 10th, 2006, 04:13 PM
whoa, this stuff is on our TV right now. But here's a sort of disturbing fact about myself: When I originally came to America, about 5 years ago I arrived here (by plane of course) 3 days before 9/11 (Thats Right, 3 DAYS!!!!) I had never been on a plane trip until a week ago for San Francisco, I arrived back here at exactly 10:17 am yesterday morning, thats one day apart from possible numerous delays and looooooong lines in security check. Now I don't even want to get into how lucky we were. But I'm still glad this mostorous plan was thwarted, this sure is a dangerous age for many people in the world.

Ryoutarou
August 10th, 2006, 05:15 PM
And Erica, I think it's just liquids that are being banned from carry ons. I could be wrong, but I don't think electronics will be banned. I really should ask my dad about it though... he'd know.
Most electronics are banned as well. o_o Right now the only liquids anyone can take on is medicine and baby milk, anything else has to stay.

Lord Mike
August 10th, 2006, 05:17 PM
Well, its for good cause. Let them do it.

Vampire://Krimm
August 10th, 2006, 05:29 PM
That freaky though, I meen, I'm SOOO glad I didnt take my trip to Holland this summer xP

wakachamo
August 10th, 2006, 06:11 PM
IMO this is far from ending. Who knows what they'll have in mind next up.

RentCavalier
August 10th, 2006, 07:26 PM
Heh heh, England Prevails...

Maera
August 10th, 2006, 07:51 PM
Omgosh. What`s happening to the world? ;___; This crazy world we live in right now.

It`s such a good thing that plains are being checked... after 9/11.

Kylie-chan
August 11th, 2006, 09:29 AM
Wow... that's scary; it makes everything like that feel suddenly a lot closer, even though Australia hasn't been terrorist attacked... yet. *doomy~gloomy* But it's inevitable.

I feel sorry for the people held up by the delays -- I'd feel sorrier if they were killed or injured or hurt in some way, physically or emotionally, by a terrorist. T_T; Critical rating... "imminent terrorist attack"... *shivers* That sounds so... harsh. XD;;; And cruel. And... scary. T_T

Lord Mike -- and that's your duty to say? Why don't you just zip the lips about Erica? o.O; She's one of the least heartless people I know. It'd be a terrible inconvenience to electronic~deprived on a flight -- of course she's sorry people could have died, but they didn't. o.O;