Saturday, August 19, 2006

Is mixing explosives on a plane even feasible?

Not likely with TATP.
Certainly, if we can imagine a group of jihadists smuggling the necessary chemicals and equipment on board, and cooking up TATP in the lavatory, then we've passed from the realm of action blockbusters to that of situation comedy.

It's a pity that our security rests in the hands of government officials who understand as little about terrorism as the Florida clowns who needed their informant to suggest attack scenarios, as the 21/7 London bombers who injured no one, as lunatic "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, as the Forest Gate nerve gas attackers who had no nerve gas, as the British nitwits who tried to acquire "red mercury," and as the recent binary liquid bomb attackers who had no binary liquid bombs.
If you really want to mix explosives on a plane nothing beats a vial of nitric acid, a vial of sulphuric acid, and a bottle of glycerin. Mix and you have highly unstable liquid nitroglycerin. TATP is less powerful but just as unstable, the main advantage is it is made from more common ingredients, those terrorists with missing fingers know how to make it, but the disadvantage is you have to mix even more slowly and carefully at a low temperature. The high tech way to go is Astrolite but you need a detonator and it should be premixed - passengers might notice all the bubbling and poisonous gases released if you make it on the plane. The low tech way to go is - snakes. Now that really freaks people out.

The threat of binary bombs on planes is similar to the overhyped threats of WMDs. The only big worry should be real nuclear bombs, not chemical, not biological, not radiation enhanced dirty bombs.

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