Humint Events Online: Plane Bomb Plot-- Bogusness and 33's

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Plane Bomb Plot-- Bogusness and 33's

Almost everything about this screams 'bogus':
WASHINGTON — American intelligence officials in September intercepted several packages containing books, papers, CDs and other household items shipped to Chicago from Yemen and considered the possibility that the parcels might be a test run for a terrorist attack, two officials said Monday night.
Yeah, random packages from Yemen to Chicago -- must be a terrorist test-run!
Now the intelligence officials believe that the shipments, whose hour-by-hour locations could be tracked by the sender on the shippers’ Web sites, may have been used to plan the route and timing for two printer cartridges packed with explosives that were sent from Yemen and intercepted in Britain and Dubai on Friday.

In September, after American counterterrorism agencies received information linking the packages to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror network’s branch in Yemen, intelligence officers stopped the shipments in transit and searched them, said the officials, who would discuss the operation only on the condition of anonymity. They found no explosives, and the packages were permitted to continue to what appeared to be “random addresses” with no connection to the terrorist group in Chicago.

“At the time, people obviously took notice and — knowing of the terrorist group’s interest in aviation — considered the possibility that AQAP might be exploring the logistics of the cargo system,” one of the officials said, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The apparent test run might have permitted the plotters to estimate when cargo planes carrying the doctored toner cartridges would be over Chicago or another city. That would conceivably enable them to set timers on the two devices to set off explosions where they would cause the greatest damage.
Truly ludicrous. Have you ever tried to track a package on-line? The idea that you could time where a plane is by the on-line tracking system is simply absurd.
The September shipments were first reported by ABC News on Monday night, which also noted that Inspire, the English-language magazine of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, recently published a picture of the Chicago skyline.
al CIA-duh, I mean, al Qaeda, has an English-language MAGAZINE, with PICTURES of potential targets? The absurdity grows.
One of the officials said that when the American intelligence agents received a tip from Saudi intelligence officials last week that bombs might be on cargo flights to Chicago from Yemen, analysts “recalled the incident and factored it in to our government’s very prompt response.”

“Both events reflect solid intelligence work,” the official said.
So basically, the only reason we know of this failed plot is because the Saudis tipped us off. Well, that was right decent of them... right ...solid. So basically, we just got very lucky, it sounds like they are saying? Or that they tortured the shit out of some dufus they captured, and he gave out the details of the plot? So HOW exactly, officially, did the Saudis find out? Of course, my guess is they knew all along, and helped set the whole thing up.
(snip) After the recovery of the unexploded printer cartridges in Dubai and Britain on Friday, Yemeni and American intelligence officials have stepped up the hunt for Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, 28, a Saudi who is believed to be the top technical expert of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. They believe he designed the underwear explosives that failed to detonate aboard a Detroit-bound airliner last Dec. 25, as well as the body-cavity bomb that killed his younger brother, Abdullah al-Asiri, in a failed attempt last year to assassinate the top Saudi counterterrorism official, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
If this guy is their "top technical expert", it seems there is little to worry about, given how lame these bombs have been so far.
(snip) On Monday, information about the latest failed plot continued to emerge. An American official said that the addresses on the packages were outdated addresses for Jewish institutions in Chicago. But in place of the names of the institutions, the packages bore the names of historical figures from the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, the official said. The addresses are one reason that investigators now believe the plan may have been to blow up the planes, since there were no longer synagogues at the Chicago locations.
You think? But how truly bizarre is this? Addresses of synagogues that no longer exist? How would they even have that info? They have out-of-date Chicago phone-books in Yemen? How often do synagogues shut down, anyway? What is even the point here? It sounds totally contrived and bogus, as first they say these guys are high-tech-- tracking packages online -- but they can't find a current synagogue address?
Explosives experts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been sent to London and Dubai to inspect the printer bombs, and technicians planned to “reverse-engineer” the bombs to understand their construction and purpose, Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, told National Public Radio.
Seriously, how likely is it that there is anything particularly high-tech here, that needs "reverse engineering"???
New details about the two explosive packages were disclosed by security officials in several countries, who discussed the continuing investigation on condition of anonymity. The explosive powder, pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, was found inside toner cartridges that were themselves inside HP LaserJet P2055 printers, according to officials from Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

German security officials also offered new details about the two bombs, one of which was on a plane that made a stop in Cologne. They said that bomb, which was found at the East Midlands Airport near Nottingham, England, contained 400 grams, or about 14 ounces, of PETN, one of the most powerful explosives known. The one found in Dubai contained 300 grams of PETN, the officials said.

Neal Langerman, an expert on explosives at Advanced Chemical Safety, a consulting firm in San Diego, said 14 ounces of PETN is the equivalent of five pounds of TNT. He said that a one-pound stick of TNT would level a house.

Both bombs contained circuit boards from cellphones, but the phone parts appeared to be used as timers, because the so-called SIM cards necessary to receive calls were missing, American officials said. Their construction appeared to support the conclusion, announced Sunday by John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, that the bombs were designed to blow up aboard the aircraft.
I must say, the only clever thing in this plot, that makes sense to me, is re-filling a printer cartridge with explosive powder. But overall, the plot seems pretty dumb. And why can't packages be tested for explosive residue anyway? They do this for plane passengers. Surely, putting explosive in a toner cartridge would be pretty messy.

On a different note-- it's odd that wikipedia actually describes the chemical procedure for how one could manufacture PETN in some detail. Wonder how long that will stay there?
At least one of the packages was initially carried out of Yemen on two Qatar Airways passenger flights, and it was unclear whether they were intended to take down those passenger jets or the U.P.S. and FedEx cargo planes scheduled later to carry them to the United States. (snip)
Overall, the basic story is not inconceivable-- bombs are put in packages by some al Qaeda group, and then fortunately Saudi intelligence is tipped off about the packages and the plot and the bombs are discovered. That part is okay, the problem is the details and the fact that there is simply no reason to trust Saudi intelligence, who have long been linked with al Qaeda.

Then there are the 33s (3:30 time) related to the plot-- for both the English (double 33 here!) and German leaders. the same time the Prime Minister was speaking, Britain had been under attack from terrorists for at least 10 hours. (snip)

An hour after the press conference finished, so we are told by Downing Street, Cameron was informed about the bomb in a cargo plane at East Midlands airport, which had been found by police at 3.30am that morning.

This is acutely embarrassing for the Prime Minister. It just does not wash to suggest that the local police who examined the package did not know what they were dealing with.

If that was the case, why was President Obama informed shortly after the toner cartridge was discovered? There was certainly a relaxed air in Whitehall last Friday afternoon about the drama when the news became public at around 3.30pm.
German police found a suspicious package in the post at Chancellor Angela Merkel's office in Berlin on Tuesday, a government spokesman said. Merkel was not in the building at the time.

"A suspicious package was found in the post office of the chancellery," the spokesman said. "It can't be ruled out that the package contains explosives. The investigation is
continuing. No one has been injured." Merkel is on a state visit to Belgium.

German-language daily Tagesspiegel reported that the package was sent via the delivery company UPS and contained "explosive material". At around 3:30 P.M. local time, a police bomb disposal unit used a water canon to neutralize the package, some two and a half hours after it was first discovered.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for this latest official terrorist plot claim, officials in Yemen immediately stepped forward and stated that not only does UPS not even go into or out of Yemen, but no flights had left Yemen for the US via UK in the 48 hrs prior to this bullshit terrorist plot claim.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any references for that?

11:53 PM  
Blogger spooked said...

I believe that was a Prison Planet article. I thought about citing it except that now officials are saying the packages originally left Yemen via a Qatar flight not a UPS flight -- so that might account for the confusion. But hard to know what happened for sure.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Shahbaz said...

I want to know which toner cartridge I have to use for printing purpose? I hope your blog will be very helpful for me in this purpose.
compatible cartridges

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh now it was a Qatar flight? Whatever. The fact remains that the original official claim was that a UPS flight out of Yemen, complete with photos of a UPS plane, contained the deadly toner cartridge and only after Yemeni protestations was this claim changed to a Qatar flight.

A PDF file (which includes the history of the document from weeks ago) listing of all the international airports the UPS aircraft fleet flies to does not list Yemen as a destination

UPS own website (from before the so-called terror incident) does not list Yemen as one of their service regions.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good find. Thanks.

5:45 PM  

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