August 10, 2006 6:15 PM PDT

Liquid explosives threaten air travel

Air travelers leaving the United Kingdom on Thursday faced the strictest security measures in years: iPods, cellular phones, laptops, and even books and magazines were no longer permitted as carry-on items.

In a series of public statements, government officials in London and Washington blamed the new restrictions on a terrorist plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, which has led to at least 24 arrests.

"The terrorists' aim was to smuggle explosives onto aeroplanes in hand luggage and to detonate these in flight," Paul Stephenson, Scotland Yard's deputy commissioner, told reporters.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff added later in the day that the alleged plotters "planned to carry the components of the bombs, including liquid explosive ingredients and detonating devices, disguised as beverages, electronic devices or other common objects."

Laptops, iPods banned

Liquid and gel explosives are hardly new, of course. Inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel began manufacturing nitroglycerin in 1865 in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, calling the explosive mixture by the brand name "blasting oil." Later, Nobel found that if nitroglycerin were diluted with nitrocellulose, it became a more stable, glutinous substance he dubbed "blasting gelatine."

Terrorists have used liquid explosives before, with mixed results.

Ramzi Yousef, who was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, concocted a plan a year later to attack 11 flights traveling from central Asia to the United States. The plot was uncovered in the Philippines in January 1995, two weeks before its execution date, after Yousef and others accidentally started a fire in their apartment and police showed up.

Before he was arrested, Yousef did a trial run with a lower-power bomb. He assembled it in the lavatory of a flight from Manila to Japan and left it on board after he departed on a connecting flight. The bomb exploded, but the Boeing 747 limped to an emergency landing with only one casualty.

Documents found on Yousef's computer that emerged during his trial (Click here for PDF) showed that the plotters had filled bottles of contact lens solution with nitroglycerin and planned to use Casio digital watches as the timers, coupled with two 9-volt batteries in the bomb as a power source. The 9/11 Commission's report said Yousef also had prepared dolls wearing clothes containing nitrocellulose, an explosive compound.

That kind of stealth explosive seems to be what provoked the dramatic reactions by Homeland Security and other officials on Thursday. Some reports said the plotters would conceal their peroxide-based explosives in a sports drink and detonate it with a disposable camera's flash. Others said, however, that the bomb would be "detonated by using heat or friction."

"Travelers are going to be inconvenienced as a result of the steps we've taken," President Bush said while traveling in Wisconsin. "I urge their patience and ask them to be vigilant. The inconvenience...occurs because we will take the steps necessary to protect the American people."

Air travelers flying inside the U.S. are still permitted to bring laptops and electronic devices as carry-on items, though both U.K. and U.S. passengers were generally prohibited from bringing liquids or gels into the passenger cabin.

Nitroglycerin may be one of the easier liquid explosives to create in a rudimentary laboratory, but it's not the only one that could be employed by bomb makers. Other candidates are nitromethane (sometimes used as a cleaning solvent), dithekite, nitroethane, and methyl nitrate (derived from nitric acid). Fixor is a commercial two-component explosive, based on a flammable liquid that's designed to replace plastic explosives, but one which requires a detonator cap.

Saboteurs are believed to have used liquid explosives smuggled on board in a bottle of alcohol to attack Korean Air flight 858 in 1987. The bomb, apparently left on board by passengers who deplaned, killed 115 people and has been attributed to North Korean agents.

Because conventional X-ray machines used at airport security checkpoints can't reliably differentiate between innocuous beverages and liquid explosives, the explosives are difficult to detect.

A report last year from Congress' research arm says that chemical traces often can be detected through screening devices at airports that use puffs of air to dislodge debris, but warned that the "portals" already in use at some airports are expensive and slow.

In addition, the report said, "novel explosive materials will probably not be detected by these systems." Also, if a bomber takes proper precautions, such as carefully sealing containers and not wearing contaminated clothes, those screening devices may not help.

See more CNET content tagged:
plotter, bomb, flight, London, U.K.

59 comments

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Stupid primitive dumheads!
Stupid primitive dumheads!, Don't they ever give up? talk about a
rebel without a cause!!
Posted by chris jerome (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
May Be Primitive, But They Are Cunning
We on, on the other hand, are modern but naive. The teachings of Mohammed, first and foremost, are a battle plans for conquest. His followers are following a recipe that is centuries old, and has by and large worked for them. Sure they don't play fair. Neither should we.
Posted by CancerMan2 (74 comments )
Link Flag
Medical Necessity
There are some people who have medical conditions which require that they consume much more water than the 8 oz. liquid the airlines provide for a several hour flight. If the airlines do not develop a method to prevent people who require more water from becoming dehydrated, there could be lawsuits. Also, if people who require more water are not permitted access to enough water, there could be medical problems due to dehydration. The air on airplanes is very dry and most people easily become dehydrated. I hope that the airlines make certain to provide enough liquid to those who need it to prevent problems.
Posted by happyhappyday (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Airlline water tanks
First they are frequently dirty. Not a problem if boiled to make coffee/tea. A significant fraction are contaminated. And the testing is sporatic at best, and might wait for a major overhaul for a real cleanout.

Second, they put less on board with the "sky high" fuel prices. It costs money to move water, just as it does the paying passengers.

Even the pull tabs of the drink cans might not be clean. Have you ever seen a sanitary wipe before opening your soft drink or beer?
Posted by bigduke (78 comments )
Link Flag
This Threat Ought To Make Liberal Terrorists Huggers Thing Twice!
Nuff said.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dumbest. Comment. Evar.
"Nuff said"? You didn't say anything... you just helped divide the
country that much further with your attitude, which just supports
the terrorists goals.
Posted by samkass (310 comments )
Link Flag
Dumbest one liner yet!
Nuff said
Posted by Flytrap (82 comments )
Link Flag
Such Insightful Commentary!
By your logic, such as it is, I could respond with the statement:

This Threat Ought to Make Conservative Fear-Mongers Really Happy... Nuff Said.

Next time, try to think instead of kneejerk.
Posted by Marqdyeth (1 comment )
Link Flag
Wow you've sucked bush's nipple nicely!
Liberal Terrorist Huggers???!!! Please... And you truly believe that fighting an IRAQ war will stop the hijacking and terrorism too, right? Like you can actually kill the HYDRA that way.(that's a Greek meth-ology reference.. (Grease is in the medit'iranian BTW)) ...that ALL TERRORISTS LIVE IN IRAQ with all the John Kerry Liberals... and John Murthas... so you can find them and kill them in their tracks and end the Islamic Extremism. You think you can spell too right? you are an idiot... keep suckin that nipple and don't wet yourself - oh, and proofread your title.

ENOUGH SAID.
Posted by Vivant Kafka (8 comments )
Link Flag
Another Waste Of Time And Money
Banning water on planes (why not trains and buses while we're at it) is just the latest stupidity in the d-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y perversity that has had a grip on this country for decades. Call a terrorist spade a terrorist spade and start doing sensible profiling on planes. Let's face it a White granny from Des Moines is not a threat to anybody. Pulling her out of line and making her get out of her wheelchair to prove she is disabled is not going to win this war.
Posted by CancerMan2 (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What!?
You know, a "White granny from Des Moines" could just as easily be a terrorist. The terrorists that everyone worries about are not so dumb as to not find people fitting different profiles that might serve their cause!

A terrorist is a terrorist, no matter where they come from. That includes the good 'ole USA.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
wut!
for thousands of years the muslim states were the most peaceful countries in the world!
Posted by broomfighter (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's not that peacefull anymore
And now they are the most piece(s)-full place in the world.

The problem is not that religion at all. The real problem is some brainiacs who abuse it to give a swing to their political/economical goals. Those criminal organizations depend on 2 classes of people:
1) In those countries, people who are poor, disillusioned, ... which want to give their children a future, so they send them to a FREE school where they don't learn to read, but become brainwashed.
2) In Western countries, they depend on people who have some screws loose so they can direct them to where they want them to go.

The problem isn't what's in the book. The problem is what they conclude from it. It's just twisted to their needs. It's the same problem as the crusades. Christianity is also very peacefull unless you give to much power to an organization.
Posted by Gino Deblauwe (25 comments )
Link Flag
Liquid
its strange that .. some peoples will go to any extend to attack US ... sad .. that the US is not stoping its unwanted activities ... and deal with its home affiers ...
Posted by narendran_js (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Can't in USA
They might be able to do that overseas, but profiling is not politically correct here in the USA - whether it would work or not.
Posted by tbuccelli (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
politicallly correct dosnt work
what will you say to hundreds or thousands dead from a terrorist plot? we where politically correct doing it? .pc is more like bs
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
Link Flag
It is naive to think that profiling is not done in USA
It is naive to think that profiling is not done in USA.

It is done in every walk of life in USA. It is just that people don't like to talk about it or complain if they find out that they are profiled.

The fact is it is done in USA whether we like it or not.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
Hah!
Obviously you've never been profiled, I'd have to assume you don't "look" like someone that would. And yes, I'm talking about here in the U.S...it does in fact happen, politically correct or not.
Posted by M A (51 comments )
Link Flag
They Better Not Ban Carry-on Electronics in the States
Wow, I feel so much safer now. :-0

First the shoes, now the liquids. Even without the lube I predict a quick slide down this slippery slope. How stupid are these airlines? If they keep this up they are going to lose a ton of business, and all for a purely optical measure. None of the stuff they're doing works. They keep focusing on what happened already instead of worrying about future threats. Lightning isn't going to strike twice; duh.

They better not ban carry-on electronics in the states, or that will be the end of air travel for me... and I'll probably try to start a boycott.

Who's with me?
Posted by tparisi (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Laptops
Well, for one, my company doesn't allow me to part with my laptop. I have to carry it with me when I fly. That's the policy. My wife has the same problem. We are both frequent business flyers. I don't think they'll ban carry-on laptops.
Posted by Collants (18 comments )
Link Flag
They Better Not Ban Carry-on Electronics in the States
I already won't fly. They blew up my GPS that was in my checked baggage and I had to buy a new one when I got where I was going last time. By the time I pay UPS to ship all the test gear I have to carry, I might as well just drive. There is no way I'm going to check a $16,000 IFR and not be able to lock the case.
Posted by willdryden (271 comments )
Link Flag
Liquid stupidity.
Terrorists planned to mix liquids so why are they all being poured into airport bins?

The latest terror plot facade is nothing more than an exercise to assess how subservient the general population has become and a primer to making permanent the panicked and ridiculous freedom crushing security measures we are seeing being rushed into implementation at the moment.

"Sir, I'm going to have to take this bottle of water away from you since it might be a liquid explosive, and I'm going to have to mix it with all of these other bottles of possibly liquid explosive, and I'm going to have to dump them all in this trash can... together. Nevermind that the plot specifically mentions mixing chemicals and/or nitroglycerin... which explodes if handled too roughly."

The only conclusion you can reach here is that airport security are not looking for terrorists because if they truly believed terrorists were attempting to board planes with liquids they wouldn't be mishandling the liquids in this way.

Dave
Posted by Dave_Brown (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The 'Peter Principle' rocks on!
After reading the comments "the peter principle rules"

The gun happy crazed british policemen, must have been put on full leash with either threat of instant dismissal on the spot or permanent midnight guard shift duty until retirement, from the encumbent police commissioner Sir Ian Blair as he is apparently fighting a losing rearguard action to prevent early dismissal from the various incompetent actions by those of lesser rank, which ranges from the deliberate murder of an innocent man(complete with an illegal coverup by all those involved and outright lying by those who are employed to serve and protect) to the deliberate wounding of an innocent man in Birmingham by an armed police moron!

The affair is just another probable total hoax Birmingham style, by the security forces seeking even greater authority than they are legally entitled too, as the alleged perpertrators were never near any plane period and the idiots whilst claiming binary liquid weapons(alluding to a hydrogen cyanide gas generation and explosives were emptying all liquids from thier containers into common bins in front of the passengers)

This is obviously Tony Blairs very last chance to ram through the national id card and other freedom stripping draconian legislation thus creating a new police state in Britain, and divert the public attention away from other very questionable possible illegal activities by his governement ministers in the current middle east war on Lebanon, the British Armaments Industry and other illegal activities by it's so called security forces!

The British Labour Party is about to dump Tony Blair big time!, because of his inability to do the right thing since signing up as GW Bush's bootlicker and assorted fatal errors of judgements in the past 3 years!

As Benjamin Franklin once said "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"

Sadly, we now live in the world where propaganda rules at the behest of our questionable democratically elected leaders, unable to do the right thing by all in this new century!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You have GOT to be a muSlime. You ramble like one.
Hey, did you write Bin Laden's speaches as well? It's just about as coherent. I bet you did those rambling disjointed Nazi rebuttals during Neuremberg, and Saddams current rants.

You ARE prolific.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Link Flag
As Alex Jones Points Out
Alex Jones points out the absurdity of dumping confiscated liquids/gels into one big collection bin. If they are truly a chemical risk, then isn't mixing them all together ad-hoc dangerous in itself? Oh, and the White middle-aged mother who had to dump out her baby's breast milk. Yeah, that makes me feel a whole lot safer. After all, the bigger the breasts, the more the danger. Lots of liquid in there, don't you know.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://infowars.net/articles/August2006/110806liquid.htm" target="_newWindow">http://infowars.net/articles/August2006/110806liquid.htm</a>
Posted by maxwis (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Always one retard who wants to see it from a murderer's point of view.
Yep. Sure, I guess if I'm born an intolerant religious fanatic, I can see their point of view. And even though I'm not an allah freak, I still see their point of view. I can also see the point of view from the ebola virus or the AIDS virus. And just like any other infestations, while I can "see their point of view" that doesn't make the extermination/eradication of these dangerous diseases any less noble.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Always one dingdong who wants to see it from a murderer's point of view.
Yep. Sure, I guess if I'm born an intolerant religious fanatic, I can see their point of view. And even though I'm not an allah freak, I still see their point of view. I can also see the point of view from the ebola virus or the AIDS virus. And just like any other infestations, while I can "see their point of view" that doesn't make the extermination/eradication of these dangerous diseases any less noble.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just write "allah" on the floor of all entrances.
Simple. Cheap. PROTECTION. No muSlime will step on their patron saint of murder. All facilities protected this way is guaranteed to be 100% terror free.

And I WILL keep posting this as cnet keep CENSOR this. Truth hurts huh?

And deleting my account will do nothing as I'll only open more accounts.

muSlimes and cnet just LOVES CENSORSHIP. These scums never realize that if they have to silence people, maybe, just maybe, these scums are in the wrong.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ill write the real gods name
not allah but jesus....
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
Link Flag
Rationale behind insulting all muslims.
Dear kamwmail-cnet1,

Where do you get off insulting ALL muslims and calling them "muslimes"? Would you advocate rounding up all muslims and putting them in concentration camps? Gassing them and putting them in ovens? That sure sounds like what you're getting at here. Very reminiscent of the scapegoating and propaganda generated in Germany circa 1930s. Perhaps you're one of these Christian Evangelicals who are waiting for (or moreso insisting upon) rapture. Maybe when the US decides to nuke Iran you'll get your wish.

Dave
Posted by Dave_Brown (46 comments )
Link Flag
Just call me homebound
My patience has run out. I cooperated with:

*Having to open my laptop at airports and government offices,

*Taking off my shoes at airports, and

* Leaving sharp objects at home.

BUT, some substances that come in liquid or gel form are
necessities, Those of us with allergies can die without our drops
and inhalers. My iPod is also necessary since I use it to back
up data when I am not carrying an external hard drive.

If I can't drive to a place, or take the train, I will be staying home.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'll keep my boots on and drive
Now that my employer has allowed me an additional week of vacation time each year, I have chosen to quit flying. I used to fly grudgingly, because I was forced to do so by time constraints. I live in Chicago, and have family who have retired to Western North Carolina. This is about a 1400 mile round trip. Earlier this spring, I opted to drive 300 miles each way to/from Cincinnati, park my car, and ride the Greyhound Bus for the remaining 400 miles of the trip. Not once did I see any passenger being searched by a TSA agent or being asked to show a Government Issued Photo ID on this bus trip. Somehow, we still all managed to arrive alive at our destinations. This past week, I returned from North Carolina once again.This time, I drove the entire trip in my 1993 Ford Escort, which has 177,000+ miles on it. The trip cost me around $240 for gas and two overnight stays at chaep motels. This is in the ballpark of what connecting flights between Chicago and Asheville/Hendersonville NC would have cost me. I could have flown to Charlotte, about 2 HRS away from my final destination, where I'm sure my mom would have gladly picked me up at the airport, for an airfare of only $150. Is driving the cheapest, quickest, most efficient way to get from here to there. Absolutely not. Not having some government agent ordering you to take your shoes off at an airport security checkpoint: priceless.
Posted by KenRoz (3 comments )
Link Flag
I'll keep my boots on and drive
Now that my employer has allowed me an additional week of vacation time each year, I have chosen to quit flying. I used to fly grudgingly, because I was forced to do so by time constraints. I live in Chicago, and have family who have retired to Western North Carolina. This is about a 1400 mile round trip. Earlier this spring, I opted to drive 300 miles each way to/from Cincinnati, park my car, and ride the Greyhound Bus for the remaining 400 miles of the trip. Not once did I see any passenger being searched by a TSA agent or being asked to show a Government Issued Photo ID on this bus trip. Somehow, we still all managed to arrive alive at our destinations. This past week, I returned from North Carolina once again.This time, I drove the entire trip in my 1993 Ford Escort, which has 177,000+ miles on it. The trip cost me around $240 for gas and two overnight stays at chaep motels. This is in the ballpark of what connecting flights between Chicago and Asheville/Hendersonville NC would have cost me. I could have flown to Charlotte, about 2 HRS away from my final destination, where I'm sure my mom would have gladly picked me up at the airport, for an airfare of only $150. Is driving the cheapest, quickest, most efficient way to get from here to there. Absolutely not. Not having some government agent ordering you to take your shoes off at an airport security checkpoint: priceless.
Posted by KenRoz (3 comments )
Link Flag
Latest news to hand "it's a very cruel hoax"
The latest news to hand, is the entire affair was a very cruel hoax, perpetrated by a number of very inept incompetent worms and disciples of the "peter principle" as employed by US Security Services, who cry wolf at the mere sight of ghosts of the past and shadows!

More fool the English Authorities, for believing these idiots, and mindlessly following their directives without thought or verifying the garbage supplied!

As for the those whose flights were deliberately cancelled and delayed by these obsequient incompetents, me I would be demanding the instant dismissal of the senior English Public Officials, starting with Sir Ian Blair, Dr John Reid(Home Secretary) and Tony Blair(Primeminister)! As throughout this affair, they have consistently displayed a less than brilliant comprehension skills and a total lack of reality skills!

Ah, the British Police versus Terrorism, 3 strikes and have now lost all credibility! What strange times indeed, to lose both one's head and direction simultaneously at the behest of so called allies and friends!

The "Peter Principle" and 'Chicken Little' rocks!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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