Friday, 2 October 2009

Body cavity bombs

Well, it had to happen, didn't it? Al Qaeda have mastered the art of remotely detonating a bomb located in a terrorist's rectum. Said terrorist managed to pass magnetometer tests to get close to his intended target Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, head of Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism operations. The Prince was only slightly hurt but the room they were in was trashed.

Abdullah Asieri: Explosive terrorist

The implications for air travel are immediately obvious. Anyone who has a metal replacement joint, eg a new hip, can tell you that they aren't generally detected at airports. The flesh around the metal masks it quite effectively, although hand wands can sense it. At the very least a procedural change will be required. At high altitude even a small explosion breaching the aircraft's skin could be enough to crash the vehicle.

It seems that Abdullah Asieri shown above was body-packing about a pound of C4 and the electronics necessary for remote detonation. A more intensive security screening, perhaps involving sniffer dogs, would have detected him.

But there are worse possibilities. With the assistance of medical personnel, and it seems Al Qaeda have such people in their ranks, it would be possible to introduce several pints of a liquid explosive into a plastic bag in a human colon via the anus.

This is what 16 ounces of nitroglycerine did to an aircraft fuselage in a controlled detonation...

16oz liquid bomb

Using a timed chemical detonator the liquid explosive would be practically undetectable.

Probably the only reason Al Qaeda have not yet done this is, ironically, it would cause too few casualties - only the occupants of the aircraft would be killed, and probably out at sea where there would be little prospect of addition damage on the ground.

Perhaps they are waiting until they can bring down several trans-atlantic aircraft at the same time.

This strikes me as being one of those situations where there will be a major attack and then the authorities will say they knew it was a possibility but the public would never have accepted the intrusive nature of the precautions that would have been necessary to prevent it.

I wonder how long colonoscopy will add to your check-in time.

CBS report
BBC video

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