Saturday, December 26, 2009

Who to Believe on 253?

Various accounts of the Detroit wanna-be-terrorist are cropping up this morning. It's interesting to note that the government has a propensity to protect the population and commerce by calling such things what they aren't, the most recent example being the Major Hasan attack.

CNN seems to be starting a 'lone wolf with no connections' portrayal by questioning his connections and filing their story in the 'crime' section. Then again, they were slower to come off the 'firecrackers' cover story and were late with the Pope attack story on Christmas Eve (when others were accurately reporting that a woman had breached security and pulled the Pontiff down CNN was saying he had just fallen).

Fox was right on top of the Pope story and was among the first news orgs to throw out the firecracker story yesterday. They are staying with the connected wolf story, quoting Congressman Peter King:
King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Mutallab "definitely has connections" to Al Qaeda.

King said Mutallab was not on any "no-fly list," but one source familiar with the investigation said the suspect did come up in another federal database after authorities checked his name on Friday.
The WaPo seems fair and balanced while the old Gray Lady tells readers:
The suspect is believed to be an engineering student at the University College London.
He probably has a poster of Ramzi Yousef on his wall. But he was clearly no Ramzi. ABC News is in the middle, providing anonymous leaks from both Republican and Democrat intelligence officials. Which news coverage would Obama approve?

The key here will obviously be the powder. If indeed he smuggled it aboard in Amsterdam there's a security problem. If he didn't that can only mean the material was left on the plane for him, which immediately proves he's not a lone nut and there's a wider conspiracy.

After 9/11 there were stories about box cutters being found on airplanes, apparently stashed by either ground crew or previous passengers. So it's possible the substance was left on board by a previous passenger on the last flight into Amsterdam on that airplane, which again would prove a wider conspiracy. But that would also prove a lapse in security somewhere else. The ground crew theory doesn't.

His seating assignment also might prove something. In the several attempts to take down 747s, terrorists have tried to get seats over the Center Wing fuel Tank so they could use a smaller explosive to blow a hole in the floor and ignite the fuel. His row, 19, was perfect for such a thing, and it was a jumbo jet.

But waiting until the end of the flight would not have maximized the fuel available, so apparently it was more important to crash the aircraft over America for symbolic effect. The problem with that is a successful crash wouldn't have necessarily been called a terrorist attack. Is it possible then the man was only playing with harmless pyrotechnics with no intention of bringing down the plane but with every intention of making news on the most important day in Christianity?

Finally, the Yemen connection could very well be bragging and disinformation after the fact but essentially groundless. That country has become a flashpoint of late and our possible take-down of Hasan's braggadocios Iman would be a big blow to their collective ego. Maybe this was their way to make an immediate statement--assuming it wasn't a tale told by a wanna-be failure trying to score brownie points with the big guys. Time may tell.

Then again, some might consider all of this rather chilling in context when considering several aviation stories in the news lately and a few predictions being made, which really haven't been making much national news at all.

A PAIN IN THE REAR? 12/26/09

There's one more possible way this man got past screening--he placed the powder in an inaccessible location, so to speak. Consider this from the CNN account:
Schuringa said he saw that Abdulmutallab had his pants open and he was holding a burning object between his legs.

"I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away," Schuringa said. He said he managed to pull an object tucked between Abdulmutallab's legs.
Now, consider this:
After al-Asiri entered a small room to speak with Prince Mohammed, he activated a small improvised explosive device (IED) he had been carrying inside his anal cavity.
Interestingly, this "dirty bomber" had been hiding in Yemen, where the Saudi Army is currently engaged. Some may ask why he wouldn't have done the same--remotely detonated it with an electronic device--but perhaps such a thing isn't possible.

MORE 12/26/09

Amsterdam has full body screening so this appears to rule out the dirty bomber aspect. Which seems to lend more credence to the binary explanation, especially based on the coming restrictions from TSA (no leaving the seat 1 hour before arrival and nothing on the lap).

PETN? 12/26/09

That's the latest. Thirteen years ago a trace of that compound found on a downed jumbo jet caused the Clinton administration to beef up airport security:
Six days after the crash, President Clinton announced a series of security measures intended to bolster airport security. And on Monday, the President asked Congress for more than $1 billion for antiterrorism initiatives, including $430 million for airport and airline security initiatives, like the installation of bomb-detection screening systems at more than 50 American airports.
Actually, that was just to be on the safe side--the substance was not found until later. Like the Clinton admin the Obama TSA will be enacting more restrictions soon but at what point do the terrorists win without firing anymore shots? It's not a political question, nor answer.


Actually, ABC. Let's hope this doesn't mean what it seems to mean as to future TSA inspections.

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