Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Aviation Update

This story made news Tuesday:
An unidentified man was sucked out of a passenger jet at 14,000 feet after a suspected bomb blasted a hole through the side of the fuselage just five minutes after the Airbus A321 took off from Mogadishu. Eyewitnesses claim the badly burned body of an elderly man fell to the earth about 15 miles away from the airport at the time of the blast.
Horrible. Of course due to the location on the aircraft there's little speculation it was anything other than a bomb--even the captain didn't mince words:
Capt. Vlatko Vodopivec, the pilot, said he and others were told the explosion was caused by a bomb. "It was my first bomb; I hope it will be the last," Vodopivec told the AP by phone from Mogadishu. He said the blast happened when the plane was at around 11,000 feet and still climbing to its cruising altitude of 30,000 feet.
Shortly before he was caught, Ramzi Yousef was perfecting micro seat bombs using Casio watches for timers so he could place bombs on aircraft on one leg and have them blow up on the next leg, after he had exited.  Philippine Airlines 434 was his test run.  The "Bojinka" plot of the mid 90s would have used eleven of them simultaneously exploding on US carriers over the Pacific. Thankfully it was thwarted, although it didn't wake up the public very much.

But Yousef and Uncle KSM weren't the first. There were several terrorist bombs in the 80s, including TWA 840, which blew four passengers out of the aircraft on a flight from Rome to Athens, Greece.  Bomb maker Abu Ibrahim, now in his 70s, is still on the FBI's wanted list for helping construct similar devices--he was last seen in Iraq (where he held a long association).

By the way, the passenger who was ejected from the Daallo Airlines flight does not necessarily have to be the perpetrator, authorities are likely checking to see who was on the previous flight in that same seat or whether someone from the ground crew could have done it.   Still, it's likely this shows that once these terrorists get set on something they never give up.   


Meanwhile another terror related aviation story hit the Daily Mail yesterday:
The deadly 9/11 terror attacks were devised by former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after he was inspired by a pilot who crashed a plane into the ocean in 1999, it has emerged.
When bin Laden heard the murder-suicide on EgyptAir Flight 990 had killed 217 people, including 100 Americans, the terrorist strongman said: 'Why didn't he crash into a building?'
This conversation supposedly occurred in 1999. Which is interesting, because the FBI had information off Yousef's captured laptop dating to 1994 that talked of crashing an aircraft into CIA HQ. After capture KSM gave up more details about the "planes operation", detailed here in the 9/11 Commission Report:
KSM claims that the earlier bombing of the World Trade Center taught him that bombs and explosives could be problematic, and that he needed to graduate to a more novel form of attack. He maintains that he and Yousef began thinking about using aircraft as weapons while working on the Manila air/Bojinka plot, and speculated about striking the World Trade Center and CIA headquarters as early as 1995.

In other words, this recent bin Laden story sounds like BS. Since it came from the AQ magazine, that makes it even more likely.

The question is why, and why now? KSM is still languishing at GTMO with no hope of a trial until Obama leaves office, if then, so he poses no threat from a competitive jihadist standpoint.  A more realistic explanation is that AQ is just trying to put another halo on their deceased hero's head to enhance weak recruitment as compared to ISIS.  That is, unless it's one of their harbingers.  

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