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.