Friday, August 18, 2006

Suspect Liquids

Another false alarm last night when a passenger of "Pakistani origin" was found to be carrying suspect liquids at Huntington airport in West Virginia. To some extent the security services are doing the terrorists job for them. To have described what might have been about to occur as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" is to make a direct appeal to our darkest imaginations (which for some people are already working overtime when they travel by air).

Writing in The Register (from Washington) Thomas C Greene argued yesterday that it would in practice hardly be feasible to bring down a transatlantic airliner with binary liquid explosives. The finger has been pointed this week at a kind of homebrew TATP, but Greene argues fairly convincingly that mixing hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid in an airplane lavatory in order to create the required sort of explosion would be next to impossible to do without detection and would anyway take several hours (and a borrowed ice bucket) to complete. Making TATP ahead of time would most likely result in premature ejaculation to paradise.

Greene reckons that we should be on the look out for crystaline white powders rather than liquids, and that dimethylmercury would be the choice of Jihadists that know a thing or two about chemistry. (Noxious and flammable, but not explosive?)

No comments: