Greene writes:

By now you’ll be asking why these jihadist wannabes didn’t conspire simply to bring TATP onto planes, colored with a bit of vegetable dye, and disguised as, say, a powdered fruit-flavored drink. The reason is that they would be afraid of failing: TATP is notoriously sensitive and unstable. Mainstream journalists like to tell us that terrorists like to call it “the mother of Satan.” (Whether this reputation is deserved, or is a consequence of homebrewing by unqualified hacks, remains open to debate.)

It’s been claimed that the 7/7 bombers used it, but this has not been positively confirmed. Some sources claim that they used C-4, and others that they used RDX. Nevertheless, the belief that they used TATP has stuck with the media, although going about in a crowded city at rush hour with an unstable homebrew explosive in a backpack is not the brightest of all possible moves. It’s surprising that none of the attackers enjoyed an unscheduled launch into Paradise.

So the fabled binary liquid explosive – that is, the sudden mixing of hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid to create a plane-killing explosion, is out of the question. Meanwhile, making TATP ahead of time carries a risk that the mission will fail due to premature detonation, although it is the only plausible approach.

Certainly, if we can imagine a group of jihadists smuggling the necessary chemicals and equipment on board, and cooking up TATP in the lavatory, then we’ve passed from the realm of action blockbusters to that of situation comedy.

It should be small comfort that the security establishments of the UK and the USA – and the “terrorism experts” who inform them and wheedle billions of dollars out of them for bomb puffers and face recognition gizmos and remote gait analyzers and similar hi-tech phrenology gear – have bought the Hollywood binary liquid explosive myth, and have even acted upon it.

We’ve given extraordinary credit to a collection of jihadist wannabes with an exceptionally poor grasp of the mechanics of attacking a plane, whose only hope of success would have been a pure accident. They would have had to succeed in spite of their own ignorance and incompetence, and in spite of being under police surveillance for a year.

I’m not so sure that they couldn’t have smuggled TATP aboard a plane. Greene rightly suggest skepticsm about Jihadists brewing TATP on board. However, we still have the mysterious case of Joel Hinrichs. He blew the top half of his body off using home-brewed TATP. Tapscott notes that:

Authorities found two to three pounds of the deadly “Mother of Satan” [TATP] explosive favored by Middle Eastern terrorists in Hinrichs’ apartment – far more than needed for suicide – as well as materials used in anti-personnel bombs, which is also characteristic of Middle Eastern terrorists

Hinrichs walked some distance to the stadium and may have tried to get in before he blew himself up. So, TATP may not be as unstable as Greene claims.

Greene is right to note that the authorities expend too much effort closing the last loop-hole rather than anticipating the next one:

It’s a pity that our security rests in the hands of government officials who understand as little about terrorism as the Florida clowns who needed their informant to suggest attack scenarios, as the 21/7 London bombers who injured no one, as lunatic “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, as the Forest Gate nerve gas attackers who had no nerve gas, as the British nitwits who tried to acquire “red mercury,” and as the recent binary liquid bomb attackers who had no binary liquid bombs.

On the other hand, a few lightly armed terrorists brought us 9/11. The loop-hole they exploited was the prevailing assumption that hijackers take planes and passengers hostage. And then we have the two Russian jets that everyone forgets about. Greene does suggest other potential risks that the authorities aren’t checking for.

There will be another successful airline attack. Worse, it may take that before the authorities start profiling in earnest.

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