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Friday, August 11, 2006

How the terrorism story is played

Different reports from two of today's U.S. national papers and two British papers on the thwarted terrorist plot. Emphasis is added. Think it interesting that the U.S. papers do not mention the intent of detonating bombs over U.S. cities. Kind of an important detail to omit. Loss of life over the Atlantic is one thing; a bomb exploding in a jetliner over a major U.S. city raises the potential for devastation even higher.

The New York Times:
LONDON, Aug. 10 — The British authorities said Thursday that they had thwarted an advanced terrorist plot to blow up airplanes flying from Britain to the United States using liquid explosives that would have escaped airport security.
The officials said they had arrested 24 men, all British-born Muslims, who planned to carry the liquids in drink bottles and combine them into explosive cocktails to commit mass murder aboard as many as 10 flights high over the Atlantic.

The Guardian:
When the jets were in midair over American cities, they planned to combine the explosives and detonate them using an electric charge from an iPod, the security services believe. BA flights were among the targets. US officials said the bombers had been seeking to hit New York, Washington, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles. Other airlines targeted were thought to be United, American and Continental.

Washington Post:
"It's fair to say they were aiming for multiple flights, and some of the exact data of who they would deploy, and how many might be in one deployment, are somewhat ambiguous," said Michael P. Jackson, deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. "There were different data sets about their intentions over time that evolved over the period of time that we were following this. It did seem in more recent days to have centered upon carriers that had direct, nonstop flights between the U.K. and U.S.

"The real focus was to blow up airliners and the people on them," he added.

The Times of London:
Meetings of the Government’s Cobra emergency unit were told that the first wave of bombings was to have targeted five aircraft leaving British airports in the next few days. The destinations, US officials said, were New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. The plotters are said to have studied the timetables of three US airlines: American, Continental and United.

Security sources said that a second wave of attacks had been considered, with as many as 12 aircraft to be attacked.
Surveillance on internet traffic between the suspected terrorists indicated that they had considered setting off their devices simultaneously in mid-Atlantic but had also discussed trying to blow up the aircraft as they circled above the destination cities. The aim was to cause maximum death and destruction in the air and on American soil.

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