Two mini-bombshells here. First, it wasn’t discovered as part of some mass testing of BA planes in hopes that it would yield a lead. They’ve already got a lead and they followed it right to the doorways of three specific aircraft.
A BA spokesman said the three planes were being examined because “individuals involved in the Litvinenko case” had travelled on them.
Second, the three planes have made 221 flights in the past month. The list of destinations: Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Athens, Larnaca, Stockholm, Vienna, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Madrid, and … Moscow. In fact, a third BA plane has been grounded in Moscow right now while it’s tested.
In particular, the cops have keyed in on four flights:
* BA875 Moscow-Heathrow on October 25 – aircraft number GBNWX
* BA872 Heathrow-Moscow on October 28 – aircraft number GBNWX
* BA873 Moscow-Heathrow on October 31 – aircraft number GBNWB
* BA874 Heathrow-Moscow on November 3 – aircraft number GBZHA
The theory is that Litvinenko was poisoned on November 1, so the assassin would have flown in on the 25th or 31st and then out on the 3rd. Unless the guy who brought the stuff in wasn’t the actual assassin, just a mule who delivered it. In that case he could have been gone by the 28th.
33,000 passengers are at risk. It’s the world’s tiniest dirty bomb.
Update: My bad. I saw a report earlier that said they’d identified the source of the radiation as polonium. They haven’t yet, although it’s a safe bet.
Update: Mario Scaramella, Litivenko’s lunch companion on November 1, came to London from Rome. That leaves Lugovoy, the Russian businessman, still to be cleared.
Update: Here we go.
It is known Litvinenko met two Russian contacts, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, at the Millennium Hotel in London’s West End on November 1, the day he fell ill. Mr Lugovoi, a former KGB bodyguard who now runs a security company in Moscow, has said that he flew in the day before with his family and friends to attend a Champions League football match between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow and for a series of business meetings. As Litvinenko lay dying, Mr Lugovoi insisted he had been framed by someone who wished him to appear to be the poisoner. “I have the feeling that someone is trying to set me up as the fall guy,” he said.
Update: I notice that the Litvinenko posts are topping out at about ten comments. Should I just stop posting on this topic? No interested at all?