AMU Emergency Management Homeland Security Intelligence Opinion Public Safety Terrorism

Who’s Behind the London Airline Bomb Plot?

Commentary and Analysis by John Cote MSSI, CPP
So, who’s behind this latest terrorism threat that happened in London this past week? Is it Al-Qaeda?
From the best intelligence I can gather from open sources, the liquid bomb plot appears to be a version of an airline bomb plot linked to Al-Qaeda called “Bojinka” which was uncovered in 1995.

The Bojinka Plot, (Bojinka is said to be slang in certain Arabic dialects for something like “big bang”), called for terrorists to board 11 United States-based airliners and place liquid bombs in the life preservers under seats. (At that time the liquid was disguised as contact solution.)
Ramzi Yousef, the man who masterminded the World Trade Center bombings in 1993, actually tested this on one plane and a single man was killed when his explosive detonated.
Officials suspect this current group was in the dry run stage of the attack which is carried out during the pre-attack surveillance phase.
Terrorist attacks have five phases:
1. Planning
2. Target Selection
3. Pre-Attack Surveillance
4. Attack Phase
5. Lessons Learned
In the current plot, the terrorists were planning on smuggling the liquid on board by way of power drinks with a fake bottom. The top of the bottle would contain actual power drink and the lower portion would have the liquid explosive. This allowed for the attacker to clearly demonstrate that the liquid was drinkable.
Although there are enough similarities to lead one to believe that both of these liquid bomb plots are the doings of an Al-Qaeda cell, one of the key plot differences to note is that the U.K. plan recently thwarted seems to have been reliant on suicide bombers.
The Bojinka plot was built around operatives leaving explosives and timing devices on aircraft in inconspicuous locales.
Police and security forces had been monitoring this U.K. terrorist cell for months and determined that it was about to carry out one of its dry runs on the 16th of August.

John Cote is a terrorism and security analyst currently living in the Czech Republic. Cote holds a master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence from American Military University.

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