Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 2, 2006

FBI official: UK plotters aimed to blow up planes over U.S. cities

Filed under: Aviation Security,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Christian Beckner on November 2, 2006

A story in today’s Washington Post adds a new twist to the UK aviation plot from August:

A group of alleged terrorists arrested in London in August planned to blow up airliners over U.S. cities to maximize casualties, rather than over the Atlantic Ocean as many intelligence officials originally thought, according to recent remarks by a senior FBI official.

The comments by Mark Mershon, head of the FBI’s New York field office, indicate that U.S. and British intelligence officials now think that the airliner plot was aimed at maximizing the potential loss of life and economic impact.

“The plan was bring them down over U.S. cities, not over the ocean,” Mershon said Oct. 24 at the Infosecurity 2006 conference in New York, according to Government Security News, which first reported the remarks this week.

This could have perhaps been the plotters’ intention, but it seems like an odd choice, given the fact that most inbound flights to the U.S. from the UK spend little or no time flying over heavily-populated parts of U.S. cities during the last part of their routes; or if they do, it’s not something that a terrorist group could accurately predict in advance, since the exact routes typically vary.

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1 Comment »

Comment by zak822

November 3, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

Your point is well taken; blowing the planes over the US would be an odd choice. One caveat might be that the explosive the Feds said would be used takes several hours to mix, long enough to transit the ocean. That might be a reason for waiting till they got here.

I’m betting this is just a part of the pre-election fearmongering that has become endemic to the GOP.

The plot itself has been exposed as having been rolled up too soon, due to US pressure on Pakistan and to the dismay of the Brits.

The fact that the plotters largely lacked even passports to board the planes, and that the explosive the Feds said would be used was more of a danger to the plotters than to the plans, puts the viability of the plot in question.

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