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UK Police Thwart Massive Terror Plot

**Scroll down for many updates and links to others blogging the story**

MSNBC reports:

British authorities thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft mid-flight between the United States and Britain using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, officials said Thursday.

"A major terrorist plot to allegedly blow up aircraft in mid-flight has been disrupted in a joint, pre-planned, intelligence-led operation by the metropolitan police anti-terrorist branch and security services," a police spokesman said.

Britain's Home Secretary John Reid said the alleged plot was "significant" and that terrorists aimed to "bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life."

Police arrested a number of people overnight in London after a major covert counterterrorism operation that had lasted several months, but did not immediately say how many.

The national threat level was raised to critical -- a warning level that indicates the likelihood of an imminent terrorist attack. The threat rating was posted on the Web site of Britain's MI5 -- the British domestic spy agency.

The U.S. government raised its threat level to the highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States early Thursday.

"We believe that these arrests (in London) have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted," said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, vacationing in the Caribbean, had briefed President Bush on the situation overnight, Blair's office said.

The Department of Transport advised all passengers that they would not be permitted to carry any hand baggage on board any aircraft departing from any airport in the country.

More from Sky News and BBC.

On MSNBC an expert being interviewed made the point that the amount of explosives necessary to bring down a plane is quite small and the components, many liquid, could be easily disguised as cosmetics or other items, such as drinks, that are normally allowed on flights. The point was made that the shoe bomber's bomb was small enough to fit into a shoe.

I had several thoughts upon hearing the news. The first, unfortunately, was that my husband will be flying on Friday. I don't know yet how this will affect domestic flights, but I am assuming there will be heightened security of all flights. The second thought, also unfortunately, was to wonder how long it will take before this plot is somehow traced to Karl Rove as part of a pre-election strategy. (Don't laugh. You all know it is going to happen.) My third thought was about what a small amount of chemicals it takes to kill a bunch of people and how incredibly easy it would be to hide such small stashes of chemicals in baggage, or, say, a country of 25 million or so people.

Update 4:10 -- British Airport Authority News Conference -- a very long list of items that will not be allowed in the plane's cabin. Women's purses will not be allowed. No beverages, hair gels, lotions, etc. Only the absolute necessities will be allowed including money, credit cards, identification, prescription drugs, bottles of formula for infants (but they will be subject to taste testing).

Update II: Fox News has good coverage through their sister station, Sky News, with live interviews with passengers at airport in UK. Will be airing a Scotland Yard briefing at 4:30 a.m. ET.

Additional facts trickling in reported on Fox: the plot was 8 or 9 months in planning and included as many as six planes from four airports including London, Glasgow, and Manchester.

Sky News reporter in one interview tried to make connection between government policy and terrorist plots. He points out British Home Secretary speech from previous day about the effect of terror threat on liberties was made when he had to have been aware of the investigation into this plot.

Update 4:30 -- Fox News reports that terrorists were "not yet sitting on an airplane" but they were very close to traveling. They also are getting some reports that the number of arrests may be higher than 20 and could be as high as 50 and that there is a "footprint" to al Queda. At least two suspects believed to be involved with the plot are still at large.

Update 4:50 -- Scotland Yard News Conference

Repeated basic info already reported above. Significant number of people involved. 21 people in custody. Extraordinarily serious plot which would have resulted in high number of deaths if not thwarted. Would not confirm where these terrorists come from at this time. Wanted to assure public that the inconvenience experienced by passengers is completely warranted. Said this is not about communities, but about mass murderers masquerading in communities.

Update 5:10 -- Fox says this was an international investigation and that Tony Blair had discussed it with President Bush on several occasions, both by phone and in person.

Update 5:20: Several reporters are saying this thwarted attack had the potential of being bigger than 9/11. Scotland Yard news conference clip that is being rerun says this promised to be "mass murder on an unimaginable scale." After 9/11 it is hard to imagine what could have been described as "unimaginable". There were six planes said to be involved. A plan to blow up six planes full of people is horrible, but I don't see how it could be said to be worse than 9/11, which included attacks on towers containing thousands of people and an attack on the Pentagon. I wonder what else was involved here.

Brian Kilmeade on Fox quoted someone making a reference about this plot being in retaliation for Afghanistan and Iraq. Yeah, until Bush decided to use the U.S. military terrorists had no interest in mass murder. (I have a feeling those denying 9/11 will soon surpass those denying the Holocaust. We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and so many have forgotten already.)

Update 6:00 -- E.D. Hill just said what I did above wondering how this could be worse than 9/11 unless something else was involved. Now I am hearing that at least six planes were to be involved, and possibly as many as twenty planes. Maybe that is where the "worse than 9/11" talk comes from.

U.S. authorities are saying the attack was "disrupted" rather than "thwarted."

Update 6:15 -- Counterterrorism officials have told Fox News that the airlines targeted were American, United, Continental and British Airways. There are as many as 50 people still being sought in this matter. No news yet whether those Egyptian students who entered the US (some arrested and some still being sought) have anything to do with this story, but Fox & Friends is asking the question. This Examiner editorial takes a look at the disappearance of those Egyptian students.

Update 7:12 -- The home of a suspect is being searched near Heathrow Airport in High Wycombe.

The investigation is being described as global and it has been reported that MI-5 and the CIA worked together on it.

Update 7:27 -- Regarding my comment above about attributing the plot to Rove campaign strategy? It didn't take long. They started before I even asked.

Update 8:40 - Kim -- Drudge has a headline (no link yet) which says that a report indicates that those involved are citizens of Pakistani decent. Simon Henderson on Fox News says that British police or politicians are loathe to call it Islamic terrorism. Simon says he's willing to money on it that today's terrorists are British Muslims.

Update 9:03 - Kim -- I'm sure others have covered this already, but the explosive was a liquid, completely different from anything else used up to this point, which is why only medicine and baby formula are allowed on. Could this have been nitroglycerine. a la Khalid Sheik Muhammad in 1996?

Update 9:07 - Kim -- Mary Katharine Ham is following the nutroots and can you believe they are questioning the timing of the announcement of the plot.

Continue following this story at Kim's post here.

Update 2:00 - Some details about the Pakistan connection from the UK Times:

Pakistani intelligence agencies helped the British authorities foil the terror plot to blow up aircraft travelling between Britain and America, highly placed sources in Pakistan said today.

The agencies have been working closely with British anti-terror police in monitoring the activities of the suspected terrorists for some time, many of whom have links with Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups, The Times has learnt.

Today Pakistani security forces put Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, leader of the outlawed Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, (LeT) under house arrest. The largest of the separatist groups fighting the Indian forces in Kashmir, the LeT has also been blamed by Indian authorities for last month's train bombings in Bombay which killed more than 200 people.

Throughout the night and early morning police carried out a series of raids in London, Buckinghamshire and Birmingham, arresting 21 people.

Three of the properties were in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire and earlier this afternoon police extended their cordon around one of the homes, a three-bedroom semi-detached ex-council, and then evacuated people from nine homes in the street.

A spokeswoman from Scotland Yard said: "We have evacuated a small number of houses in High Wycombe as a precautionary measure."

Locals said that the family that had lived at the targeted home for the past 15-years included three sons and two daughters.

Neighbours said two of the brothers, who are both married, still live at the house with their wives, but a third brother no longer lives there.

Former friends said that the men used to be well known in the area but had not been seen very much in recent years.

Philip Redfern said: "They are very quiet, they keep themselves to themselves which is very strange because this is a very tight community.

Update 5:15 p.m. - Terrorists planned "dry run" within two days.

Fox News just showed an Air Canada plane on the runway at Washington International. They are reporting that passengers were evacuated from the plane due to a suspicious package. I was unable to find a story about it online at Fox, AP, or anywhere else.

Blogging the story:

Counterterrorism Blog has excellent early commentary.
Ed Driscoll
Tim Blair (who shares Jay Tea's suspicions except that Jay tagged the Lutherans for it)
Flopping Aces
USS Neverdock (who notes the BBC discovered the "T" word)
Homeland Security Blog (has some really good blogroll links to other national security sites)
Brendan Loy
Lifelike Pundits (what terrorist threat?)
Michelle Malkin (pulling it all together)
Hot Air (excellent coverage beginning around 1:30 a.m. and continuing through the night)
Ace (great coverage -- lots of stuff)
Flip Pidot (some interesting stuff including last night's Mythbusters episode on liquid explosives)
Mary Katharine Ham (tries to explain to Dems that international terrorist threats should be reported, even if doing so does ruin their Nedrenaline)
Carol Platt Liebau (she has family members who used to fly between the U.S. and U.K. frequently)


TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference UK Police Thwart Massive Terror Plot:

» Ed Driscoll.com linked with Major Terror Plot Foiled In UK

» Lifelike Pundits linked with But I Thought There Was No Terrorist Threat

» All Things Beautiful linked with UK 'Home Grown' Terrorist Plot Thwarted

» The American Mind linked with Terrorist Attacks Thwarted; Air Travel Disrupted

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with British Police Thwart Major Terror Plot

» bRight & Early linked with First Cup 08.10.06

» Pirate's Cove linked with Major Terrorist Plot Thwarted In England

» SEIXON linked with Operation Bojinka Redux

» Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with British Mega-9/11 Foiled (***Ongoing***)

» Rhymes With Right linked with Terrorists Abroad

» Thoughtsonline linked with 3 questions about today's would-be attack...

» The Florida Masochist linked with Stopped Terror plot and a practical concern

» Villainous Company linked with Facism Alert!

» Assorted Babble by Suzie linked with Mass Murder Planned by Terrorists for US and UK

» Cozy Corner linked with Putting it together

» Macsmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense linked with Yet another foiled terrorist plot

» The Right Nation linked with War on Terror

» The Random Yak linked with Terrorists Grounded in U.K.

» Mike's Noise linked with Terror in the skies averted

» Flopping Aces linked with Major Terrorist Plot In England Foiled

» La Shawn Barber's Corner linked with NO, Mr. Bush!

Comments (27)

Sky had reported 12 to 20 p... (Below threshold)
LifeTrek:

Sky had reported 12 to 20 planes, consecutive flights from 4 airports. At 200 to 400 people per flight that could be up to 8000 people.

Don't know if it was an accurate report - gut with 25 arrested and up to 50 people sought it could be unimaginable.
DKK

Now they are saying 6 plane... (Below threshold)
LifeTrek:

Now they are saying 6 planes, but what about damage on the ground?
DKK

Damn, I meant at least 6. ... (Below threshold)
LifeTrek:

Damn, I meant at least 6. Must have Coffee now!!
DKK

I have a feeling those d... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I have a feeling those denying 9/11 will soon surpass those denying the Holocaust. We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and so many have forgotten already.

The deniers are in larger number than people think. People have blown off the need to debunk these conspiracy theories and in doing so allowed the believers have grown in huge numbers. This is especially true for people who were young teenagers at the time of 9/11 or younger and have had ' the US is the root of all the World's Evil' meme drilled in them at school. The conspiracy theories fit better with what they are taught in schools. Ignored for another 5 years and most people under 23, almost an entire generation, will probably believe the conspiracies over the truth.

I don't think they can be ignored anymore especially when they would have us drop our guard for days like today.

We've had a few of these "9... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

We've had a few of these "9/11 was an inside job" idiots posting here.

I won't bother visiting Kos and DU to see who they blame first. Or the DNC. Bush and the Joooos, I'll bet.

Anybody see John Dean on Larry King last night?

Rather convinent that there... (Below threshold)
salitine:

Rather convinent that there's a TERRORIST PLOT right when Lamont owns Republician lapdog Liberman. Wow, heard that the terrorists were British citizens. Mabey the're opposed to Republicians screwing up the whole world? Damn terrorist leftie tree-huggers. Eww, eww, coporate america is poisoning the environment. Eew, eew, the Democrats might win the american vote. Eww, eew, some angry british citizens had to be 'Black Bagged' to keep them from being Pissed at the government. Desperate, desperate people who have been complaining too much! Their "Monitored Communication' show how the've been complaining for the past few decades. Bag'EM UP! Knock them around for the next decade, then they won't complain so much. Show THEM about terrorists! After the first few months, they won't be so eager to complain about AMERICA's GOVERNMENT is doing to the world. I think killing people is wrong, but most of these people were complainers. Jackjawing and hating on the GOD of THE WORLD, AMERICA! Lock those scumbags up for their hating ways. NEVER let them see the light of day again! Terrorist menace, or republician showpiece? It's a scam, like paying someone 5,000 to tell you how to go to a sheriff's sale.

It ain't all about the voic... (Below threshold)

It ain't all about the voices in your head, salitine...

They must not have kept any... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

They must not have kept any American intelligence or law inforcement agencies informed, or it would have been leaked to the press long ago.

Side note:

Does anyone have any idea what the hell Salitine said?

Good job on the sarcasm thi... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Good job on the sarcasm thing, Saltine, but your post is...um...rather incoherent. Can you sharpen it up some?

saltine,Your hero Ne... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

saltine,
Your hero Ned Lamont just issued a statement about the terrorist's plot to blow up civilian airliners.
He called for a complete withdrawal of all British citizens from England.

Are the suspected militants... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

Are the suspected militants from A Broad Strata Of Society(tm)?

SS

Why am I picturing salitine... (Below threshold)

Why am I picturing salitine foaming at the mouth?

I'm flying next week to Boston. I wonder if I can get out of it somehow.

Why are we letting middle e... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Why are we letting middle eastern men fly to the U.S.? Can someone give me a rational reason, not pablum about discrimination or the religion of peace, etc.

It really is time to do awa... (Below threshold)
Davidlin:

It really is time to do away with carry on luggage. I think nothing should be allowed except essential stuff. I don't understand why keys are essential, for example. Put everything in the hold in those explosion proof boxes.
What if Richard Reid had been a little more proficient? What if they had not discovered this plot? They really don't even know now if they got everybody.
People need to be reminded everyday that there is a war going on. This would be a good way to do it.
The only coincidence that strikes me, Saltine, is the fact that Iran is making as much trouble as possible for everyone at the present moment. It has harbored AQ in the past and present.
Next time you fly look down at the earth 30,000 ft below and think about the haters who would be joyful if they could arrange for you to fall that far.

Davidlin:... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Davidlin:

I don't understand why keys are essential, for example.

Well, when your luggage gets sent to Ottowa and you land in Florida, you can at least get into your house and have the rest of the misplaced baggage delivered later.

The ACLU and the NYT are ch... (Below threshold)
hermie:

The ACLU and the NYT are checking to make sure that the rights of the suspects haven't been violated, and that the details of the methods used to arrest them have been fully revealed.

Why are we letting middl... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Why are we letting middle eastern men fly to the U.S.? Can someone give me a rational reason, not pablum about discrimination or the religion of peace, etc.

Well, first of all, money. They buy tickets. Second, about 99.9% of Middle Eastern men are not terrorists. Third, Pakistan is not in the Middle East. Fourth, you're dumb.

Anyway, it seems that some Pakistani police work was instrumental in this:

ABC News has learned that two "significant arrests" in Pakistan in recent days may have significantly accelerated the pace of the investigation.

Many of the alleged terror plotters appeared to be of Pakistani descent. It appears that they were probably "homegrown" terrorists with strong links to al Qaeda and Pakistani operatives. This new generation of terrorists have figured significantly in plots in the U.S., London and Canada in recent months.?

Only a person who rarely fl... (Below threshold)

Only a person who rarely flies would question carry-on luggage. Try packing everything in checked luggage and then having it sent to Iowa instead of California. Then go to your interview in the same clothes you wore on the plane, after buying toiletries at the Hotel.

We do not need more hassles at the airport. We do need to profile, pre-register and set up express lanes for those of us willing to pay for background checks.

Welp, LAW ENFORCEMENT did i... (Below threshold)

Welp, LAW ENFORCEMENT did it's job and got these guys, meanwhile the MILITARY continues it's misassignment in Iraq and Afghanistan as those nations continue to fail.

Looks like LAW ENFORCEMENT is going to have it's hands full for a long while while WE MAKE NEW TERRORISTS in the Middle East.

JMJ

Davidlin, For many... (Below threshold)
Andy:

Davidlin,
For many of us frequent travelers, the idea of putting our valuables - laptops, high-end cameras - into the hands of the baggage handlers, who have a history of theft and damage, as well as not being properly background checked. Doesn't make sense to me.

"Looks like LAW ENFORCEMENT... (Below threshold)
owl:

"Looks like LAW ENFORCEMENT is going to have it's hands full for a long time while WE MAKE NEW TERRORISTS in the Middle East".

Think that is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. HELLOOooo. In case you have not noticed, law enforcement has been dealing with this little problem for the last 25 years and it just kept growing. FYI, Bush had not invaded and ruled the world before 9/11. We were extremely lucky....they only got 3,000 and now they shooting to double it.

Of course law enforcement must be used. I will lay money that you object to that same law enforcement listening and tracking and possibly the ole evil 'profiling'? "Making More Terrorists"......unbelievable. You need to make that posse mighty big to go gather them up as there seems to be MILLIONS that share at least one thing in common.....they think you are a freaking infidel pig and now they have the means and the internet.

Maybe you should get a tad beyond just law enforcement and at least TRY something to stop them. Bush's idea was 'democracy'. You got a better for all those millions on the way????

Of course....Bailey had a brilliant plan that I will use....Hear this....Hear this...ALL NON-MUSLIN BRITISH CITIZENS SHOULD COMPLETELY WITHDRAW FROM ENGLISH SOIL. Pass it on the Murtha, Kerry, Lamont and all the Kos Kids.

Re Saltine; it's obviously ... (Below threshold)
slickmeister:

Re Saltine; it's obviously satire, ie saltine = crackers = moonbat.

Mantis, the Paki's most lik... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Mantis, the Paki's most likely provided us with info only after we approached them, per Dennis Ross' observation this am re their cooperation.

There are a large number of Muslim men who are sympathizers with Muslim radicals. I believe the recent polling in Europe bear that out. Which ones will you decide are only sympathizers, and which ones terrorists?

Next time you are on a plane, and see a group of middle-eastern young men, as I have, I bet you'll think about that one. If you don't, then you're simply not aware there is a threat.

I would think groups of younger middle-eastern, or Muslim, men traveling abroad is cause for concern, unless you have your politically correct head up your ass.

We did not MAKE any terrori... (Below threshold)

We did not MAKE any terrorists. We have certainly enabled them in the past - particularly during the 8 years that we had a president more interested in getting his hands on a portly 21-year old intern than on Osama Bin Laden.

The Islamic terrorist is essentially a simple soul. He hates, with absolute virulence, anything Western. In the eyes of these theocrats, we are corrupt, lawless, lacking in morals, our women are entirely too independent, the list goes on and on. So in reality, we are left with only one choice. We must eradicate the theocrats or surely they WILL eradicate us. There is no middle ground. There is no "feeling their pain". They want US dead. And it doesn't matter if your a moonbat or a rational human being. They don't give a rat's eardrum. They want ALL OF US DEAD. It is a fairly simple concept.

I am so grateful that there... (Below threshold)
Candy:

I am so grateful that there are people out there - be it law enforcement, military, etc. - who have been managing to keep us safe for almost six years, since 9/11. It's actually shocking that there has been no major situation on U.S. soil since 9/11.

I suspect that they have stopped many plots without it even leaking to the press. Whether you are American, Pakastani, British or otherwise, you are wonderful and are doing an amazing job.

If any of you are out there and reading this blog, THANK YOU for your efforts - here and abroad.

Beyond BDS ....... (Below threshold)
Gull:

Beyond BDS ....

One could hope that we could -- for once -- get beyond the Bush Derangement Syndrome and realize that, as a previous poster stated: terrorists want ALL of us dead.

Ahhhhhh ... to see bloggers working together: moonbats and wingnuts blogging keyboard to keyboard in a concerted war-of-words AGAINST terrorism -- instead of sniping at each other. We could be the Moonwing Marauders! The Batnut Brigade!!!

Seriously -- could it happen? Could we not find mutual goals? Common objectives?

Probably not. Now playing on monitors everywhere: the BDS soundtrack against undertones of left/right extremism -- with minimal moderation in a battle of woofers and tweeters.

Too bad. Our survival may depend on it.

Seriously -- could it ha... (Below threshold)
astigafa:

Seriously -- could it happen? Could we not find mutual goals? Common objectives?

Our goals have always been the same: to demonize our political enemies, without reference to the truth or any moral standard you could name.

I wouldn't have it any other way.




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