10 August 2006

Let's Not Forget That We Are Still At War

Suspects arrested Thursday for planning to stage a massive mid-air terror attacked were in the final stages of planning and planned to run a dry-run of the plan within two days, U.S. intelligence officers said Thursday.

When I had heard that this was going down early this morning, very few details were available in the press. The first thing that I had thought of, after hearing that the apparent plot was to blow-up passenger aircraft en route to the U.S. from the U.K., was how the incident on board Northwest Flight 327 two years ago seemed to be a dry run for just this sort of second shot at a Project Bojinka. I threw the idea around a bit with my wife before hitting the rack and, after a few short hours of sleep, the details that were starting to come through were making the current incident sound more-and-more like a plan to assemble the bomb components on the aircraft.

That got me to thinking about the eleven Egyptians who disappeared about two weeks ago. In case you missed out on that one, eleven of seventeen Egyptian exchange students who arrived in New York from Cairo on 29 July 2006 failed to show up at a Montana State University exchange program. The university made repeated attempts to reach the Egyptians after they failed to arrive, attempts which included sending emails, but there was no success in contacting any of the eleven. The FBI issued a lookout alert to law enforcement after a week, and since then six of the eleven have been found. (Egyptian exchange students missing on way to MSU)

Michelle Malkin has a post that includes the tidbit about the Egyptians, and another one about two Muslim men who were found with flight documents, plenty of cash, and twelve cell phones in their car. They have since been charged with supporting terrorism through the sale of over 600 cell phones. Here's a CNN piece on them:

Michigan men held on terror charges
Deputies stopped Osama Sabhi Abulhassan, 20, and Ali Houssaiky, 20, both of Dearborn, Michigan, on a traffic violation Tuesday [08 August 2006]. They found the flight documents [airplane passenger lists and information on airport security checkpoints] along with $11,000 cash and 12 phones in the car, said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

Let's recap the top stories: Five Egyptian students are still missing after taking off nearly two weeks ago; two Muslim men from Michigan, who were found with a large sum of cash and airport security information, are being held on charges of supporting terrorism; and twenty-four people have been arrested in a plot to resurrect Project Bojinka.

Add the following to that mix:

Terrorist bid to build bombs in mid-flight
In May 2002 nearly 100 grammes of pentrite, a plastic explosive used by the alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid, was found hidden in the armrest of a Moroccan jet when it landed in Metz, France. At the time, investigators said they thought it had been put there as a warning. Now French officials suspect the explosives were placed on the jet as a trial of the new tactics.

What Happened on United Airlines Flight 925?
Meanwhile, the Captain radioed in to Heathrow airport, asking that the men's names be re-checked against the terrorist "no-fly" list. Word came back from the Captain to the crew that two of the nine men were on the "no-fly" list.

"We were horrified," one flight attendant told me. "I heard the Captain wanted to divert -- I don't know why we didn't. We made sure the passengers didn't notice but we were all horrified."

According to members of the crew, the Air Marshals were keenly aware of the situation. "The Air Marshals were ready and prepared," said one flight attendant. "Apparently, they had their guns out under their blankets."

Three Pakistani passengers questioned, then released
"The flight crew made an observation of their behavior which caused the flight to be diverted to Boston," [FBI Spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz] said. "It's all being resolved. They will be on another flight this morning for Heathrow."

Two Muslims offloaded from plane as nervous passengers refuse to fly
The Excel Airways flight from Larnaca to Manchester was due to leave Cyprus on Sunday - the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks - but was cancelled after passengers refused to fly amid fears they were being targeted by bombers.

Muslims appear to have been casing flights for a while now, and the information that they pulled from those test/dry runs may have been what determined which components and tactics should be used in carrying out such a terrorist attack.

This should be a staunch reminder to all that our enemy is real, is hiding amongst us, and we are still very much at war.


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