Though for some, news of a reported Al-Qaida plot to down multiple commercial airliners with liquid explosives may sound exotic and unusual, in fact, U.S. authorities have been aware of such a threat from Al-Qaida affiliates for over a decade.
In 1995, when U.S. and Philippine security services uncovered a plot by 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and his uncle 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to bomb over a dozen U.S. airliners simultaneously over the Pacific Ocean, they quickly moved in and arrested their co-conspirators. One of the detained men, trained commercial pilot Abdel Hakim Murad, described Ramzi Yousef's plans in detail -- including his intention to travel to "France, Egypt, and Algeria after the activities here in the Philippines. The purpose was to train those Muslim brothers thereat, on using a Casio watch as a timing device, chemical mixtures to compound bombs, and to share his expertise in eluding detection on an airport's x-ray machine, and eventually smuggling [onboard] this liquid chemical bombs. Furthermore, France has a lot of Algerians staying and that these Egyptians and Algerians ha[ve] no experience on making these bombs and [do] not know the basics of smuggling liquid bombs through the airport."
Eleven years later, we once again return to the same threat to commercial aviation posed by liquid explosives. Only now, it would appear that the fabrication of such high-tech terrorist weapons by Al-Qaida operatives inside Western Europe is no longer an insurmountable challenge.
Senate reaction to the plot:
BOWLING GREEN, KY- U.S. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell made the following statement Thursday regarding the disruption of a major terrorist plot centered in the United Kingdom, and the need for continued anti-terror efforts in the United States:
"This is yet another reminder, if anyone needed one, that the war on terror is not over. And it is a reminder that our military, law enforcement and intelligence forces are working around the clock and around the world to prevent attacks here at home.
"That's why we need more tools, not less, to fight terrorists. It is clear to anyone paying attention that our law enforcement and intelligence forces need every legal means at their disposal to be able connect the dots and prevent and disrupt al Qaeda's attacks. Tools such as the terrorist surveillance program and others allow us to prevent the attacks before they happen, not just to respond when it's too late. We must continue to arm our forces, so that they can disarm terrorists."