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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Transatlantic travel (and more) under threat

According to Scotland Yard a plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit “mass murder” on an unimaginable scale has been disrupted.

It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft. High security is causing delays at all UK airports. The threat level to the UK has been raised by MI5 to critical. Three US airlines are believed to have been targeted.

There are no more details about the plan available at the moment other than it revolved around liquids of some kind and that the explosives would have been sophisticated and extremely effective. Flights from Heathrow Airport and Gatwick are suspended until this afternoon at least. The security measures are pretty drastic:

Passengers are not allowed to take any hand luggage on to any flights in the UK, the department said. Only the barest essentials – including passports and wallets – will be allowed to be carried on board in transparent plastic bags.

Another article reports that intelligence is often fragmentary and partial, so the fear perhaps is that there is another, parallel group or other individuals who are also going to carry out similar attacks and that is why such security measures are being taken.

This is all very distrurbing, of course, both for the obvious threat to lives as well as the disruption it will bring to our everyday existence. Another disturbing fact is this kind of comments (a reader’s comment next to the BBC article I got the news from):

This disruption [security measures] is one of the short term limits on freedom that are needed. Tony Shield, Chorley

28 comments to Transatlantic travel (and more) under threat

  • “Did you see the news today, Ahmad? All the brothers had to do was TALK ABOUT carrying bombs onto airplanes, ans now they quake in fear of every gym bag!   Until the end of time, no Infidel will carry a Godless bottle of water or satanic book onto an airplane! Millions of money and thousands of hours of aggravation, just from talk!

    Allah is truly mighty, that the west cowers from the very thought of martyrdom operations!”

  • I guess Mr. Shield must be thrilled that it’ll be illegal henceforth to bring your own beverages on board (or shampoo, or sunscreen, or….) I already put my take up at my blog.

    The short answer: given that the government’s invariable response to terrorism is a new set of restrictions on the previously innocuous behaviour of ordinary citizens, al Qaeda doesn’t even have to succeed in any of its bomb attacks. All it has to do is try, and it’s strategic goal (limiting freedoms, degrading trust levels, etc) is accomplished.

  • It is all deeply depressing. I suppose the correct attitude is to combine gratitude at the job our security services are diong with vigilance that the government do not use this as an excuse to bulldoze all opposition to their ‘civil liberties’ agenda (ie destruction of).

    Over at Comment is Free, the moonbats are in full cry. Apparently it’s all been stage-managed by MI5 and the government, and… oh, you get the idea.

  • Andy

    Maybe more of us will be following Margaret Beckett in the future and taking a caravan holiday. She really is setting the trend.

    Oh, and with less people flying, we might reduce our country’s carbon emmissions too…

  • fiona

    I’m still waiting for a terrorist to be discovered with a stick of dynamite pushed up his anal cavity. Then you’ll all be subject to anal cavity searches (with mandatory enemas for those deemed to be carrying material of a suspicious nature”) before boarding.

  • Good job Tony and his family got out on Tuesday!

  • Nick M

    Yes it is depressing. I was/am planning a transatlantic trip. I think I’ll row – it’ll be quicker and far less hassle and at least I’ll be able to take my sunglasses in their case.

    Books are amongst the things banned. Has anyone in recorded history been killed by an exploding paperback? I suppose it’s bad news for the Tom Clancys, John Grishams and Chris Ryans of this world. HM Gov in it’s infinite wisdom has deemed the airport novel a threat to national security. Perhaps it’s because so many of these thrillers have blurb describing themselves as “an explosive read” etc.

    Surely they can target searches better? I see absolutely no point in X-raying the shoes of an octagenarian Hindu lady.

    Well, if they do find such a miscreant there is an obvious solution – take him out to a field, light the bloody thing and run like hell.

    “He had dynamite in his rectum, Sergeant”

    “Rectum, bloody well killed him!”

  • I am also puzzled about why they banned books and papers on board. This is going to be a major blow (pun not intented) for my transatlantic travel. I simply cannot imagine spending 6-7 hours without something to read.

  • Nick – the joke is a Little Johnny classic:

    Miss: What did you do over the weekend, Johnny?
    LJ: We stuck a banger up a cat’s arse, Miss.
    Miss: Rectum, Johnny!
    LJ: Yeap, it blew him apart!

    Anyhow, didn’t Salman Rushdie almost die when his paperback blew up on him unexpectedly?

  • Dale Amon

    I think I would not wish to fly on August 22nd…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I have relations coming over from Malta. No idea whether they will be able to make it in time for this weekend.

    I cannot believe they are banning books, but then maybe some security honcho reckons someone could hollow one out and conceal something nasty.

    It is getting to the stage where air travel, a major part of global trade, is being suffocated completely. Which is presumably what these bastards want.

  • guy herbert

    Any opportunity to ban books. Don’t want any of them pointy-headed intellectuals to be comfortable. Life should be as empty and tedious for them as it is for a security guard.

  • RAB

    I travel frequently and this is going to be a real pain.
    My handluggage is often searched as it is, because it doesnt scan well.
    I always carry the expensive but essential electronics like ipods, digital camera, short wave radio and of course all the chargers in there, plus a couple of books and the ubiquitous bottle of water. All those wires often excite the attention of the checkers. I have lost checked in luggage several times and am very reluctant to put this stuff in the hold.
    Presumably this is panic time and procedures will settle down. Trouble is the current regulations are very inconsistent. My wife has had three pairs of nail scissors confiscated from her hand luggage so far, yet they completely ignore my pocket full of pens and pencils. Anyone who thinks someone couldn’t hijack a plane with a sharp pencil but can with a pair of nail scissors is either ignorant or stupid.
    You science graduates out there, (got your ears on Dale?) What do you think this liquid explosive is?

  • SK Peterson

    Andrew Sullivan believes it might have been hydrogen cyanide. http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/08/their_igod.html

  • Millie Woods

    Isn’t it about time we turned the tables on these delusional muederous barbarians. First of all we should stop pretending that they have some kind of monstrous hold over us and our economies with their oil. The world is full of oil and it is the ME oil ticks who should be begging us to keep them in mind when shopping for crude instead of allowing them to blackmail us by threatening to cut off our supplies.
    The ME oil ticks need us and our technology far more than we need them. Just ask the Danes how much their economy suffered after the Arab bpycott. The answer is not at all.
    Furthermore we should add a tax on food exports to the Saudis – which by the way they need more than we need their oil – to cover the costs of security their funding of terrorists has added to many of our transactions.
    Lastly our wimpish treatment of these thugs by our standards of justice while they use these same standards to kill us has to go. They want sharia law so let them have it. There should be one law for the civilized – us – and another for the barbarous brutes – them.
    In the animal kingdom, the herd knows enough to isolate and drive out the rogue elements which threaten the majority so why are we ignoring the wisdom of the ages and the natural world in tolerating these monsters in our midst.

  • Nick M

    Well HCN is poisonous but is it explosive? I’ve never heard of it being but then again chemistry was never my strongest suit…

    There is a general question that has interested me for a while. How small (volume and mass) can an explosive device be and still bring down a plane? I have a vague suspicion that I really don’t want to know the answer.

    RAB, you are so right. The nail clippers thing is a farce. I just realised that the next time I fly I’m gonna have to take the itty-bitty Leatherman-style multi-tool off my keychain. It’s the little things that irk in the WoT.

  • Books or any form of paper can be turned into an explosive by impregnating the paper with dissolved explosive and then drying carefully. If done skillfully, the paper won’t show any significant water damage. Such “book bombs” were used successfully as incendiary devices by the resistance in WWII.

    (Clothing can also be impregnated. Drug smugglers have used this technique in the past and it would work for explosives as well.)

    Most explosive chemicals are liquid at room temperature so it is easy to create a liquid bomb. North Korea destroyed a south Korean airliner back in the 80’s using a binary explosive transported in a soda bottle and a bottle of cologne.

    The ugly truth is that there are far to many ways of disguising explosives.

  • Bulldog

    No doubt this will bring heavy reprecussions upon the travelling population here in the US. Which is absurd, but it will be a reminder from the US government about who really owns your ass.

    Next will be body cavity searches at grocery stores.

    Needless to say I am expediting my plans of moving from here for good.

  • Bulldog

    No doubt this will bring heavy reprecussions upon the travelling population here in the US. Which is absurd, but it will be a reminder from the US government about who really owns your ass.

    Next will be body cavity searches at grocery stores.

    Needless to say I am expediting my plans of moving from here for good.

  • Matra

    So our multiethnic society has claimed even more of our freedoms. Diversity is strength!

  • Colin

    There is an easy solution to this problem. One bowl of pig fat beside the gangway onto each plane. No-one gets on board without dipping their finger in it. Moderate muslims won’t be too offended, suely?

  • Salsa Blanco

    Why does Dale keep babbling about August 22nd as if we are supposed to know what he is talking about?

  • Daveon

    I managed to change to a flight into London City yesterday, rather than LHR. Looked like they were letting people take magazines and books, in clear bags provided by the airport newsagent.

    That would at least make it slightly bearable.

    The thought of a long haul flight without my iPod, laptop and a book would be hard to cope with.

    This, frankly, isn’t sustainable. RyanAir could be really hurt by this. They’ve spent a lot of effort moving their business model away from hold luggage to carry on only. Chatting to a baggage handler from Copenhagen on the train to their airport, yesterday, he was concerned that they’d not have the capacity airside to keep this up long term.

  • Andrew Milner

    Another perfectly good scam blown away. You show up at LHR check-in with an overweight suitcase, but as a mitigating circumstance you give her both barrels of your boyish charm as you explain you have no hand luggage. Then you rush back to the car and grab the two heavy duty carrier bags that together weight at least 20kg. Bloody terrorists.

  • markH

    We shouldn’t expect (or I suspect even hope for) a consistent response from around the country’s airports. I flew from London City to Frankfurt last night – delay of an hour and a queue to get through security of about the same. Books and newspapers were being confiscated, but were available immediately airside. Which means in effect that all we will be allowed to read is the stuff we can buy in the airport. Maybe the Department of Transport and WH Smith have got something going. There’s clearly a business opportunity here to deliver books airside to those who have ordered them.

    It’s clearly much easier to subject everyone to this than it is to target the group whose members are responsible. And those who ritually complain about the “selfishness” of those who complain about being delayed are brain dead.

  • FinalSolution

    Don’t allow one of these filthy pigs into the US. Don’t allow them to board our planes. Fat chance… I see more and more of their sows in burkas all over the stores around here (Seattle).

    The US government is turning down educated hard-working Poles and Russians wishing to emigrate to the US, while bringing in thousands and thousands of muslim filth who delight openly in the misery and murder that they are inflicting on us.

    We need an Attila the Hun or a Stalin who will wipe these excements out of the face of the Earth. For now I’d settle for getting them out of my country.

  • guy herbert


    You should be locked up with Osama as your cellmate. You’d get along just fine.

  • FinalSolution

    deleted. sorry but we have a ‘no fascist morons’ policy here