UK Thwart Massive Terror Plot
British authorities thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft mid-flight between the United States and Britain using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, officials said Thursday.
"A major terrorist plot to allegedly blow up aircraft in mid-flight has been disrupted in a joint, pre-planned, intelligence-led operation by the metropolitan police anti-terrorist branch and security services," a police spokesman said.
Police arrested a number of people overnight in London after a major covert counterterrorism operation that had lasted several months, but did not immediately say how many.
The national threat level was raised to critical — a warning level that indicates the likelihood of an imminent terrorist attack. The threat rating was posted on the Web site of Britain’s MI5 — the British domestic spy agency.
The U.S. government raised its threat level to the highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States early Thursday.
The terrorist attack foiled by British authorities on Thursday was aimed at blowing up as many as 10 airplanes on trans-Atlantic flights, and plotters hoped to stage a dry run within two days, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
The actual attack would have followed within days.
One official said the suicide attackers planned to use a peroxide- based solution that could ignite when sparked by a camera flash or another electronic device.
The test run was designed to see whether the plotters would be able to smuggle the needed materials aboard the planes, these officials said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter.
The Department of Transport advised all passengers that they would not be permitted to carry any hand baggage on board any aircraft departing from any airport in the country.
The suspected terror plotters arrested in Britain had planned to conceal their liquid or gel explosives inside a modified sports beverage drink container and trigger the device with the flash from a disposable camera.
ABC News has learned exclusively that the plotters planned to leave the top of the bottle sealed and filled with the original beverage but add a false bottom, filled with a liquid or gel explosive. The terrorists planned to dye the explosive mixture red to match the sports drink sealed in the top half of the container.
This, they thought, would ensure that they would be able to pass through security -- even if they were asked to unseal and drink the beverage.
The flash in a disposable camera has enough electrical power, they apparently believed, to set off the homemade explosive.
Thank God the New York Times didn't get wind of the ongoing efforts. I hope this illustrates why the NSA programs and money tracking programs are so important. And makes clear to the NYT that there are times when human lives should supersede the selling of newspapers...
For some good news, the stock market shrugged off the plot. The Dow was up 48 and the Nasdaq ended up 11. And the price of oil dropped.