Investigators: Terrorist wore suicide underwear made by top AQ bombmaker in Yemen

posted at 3:45 pm on December 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

In the war on terror, we’ve seen suicide vests and suicide belts.  We’ve even seen suicide rucksacks.  Now, the top Yemeni bombmaker for al-Qaeda has the latest in fashion for radical jihadists looking to martyr themselves for their faith, as ABC News reports:

The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect’s underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News.

Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet. Yesterday’s bomb failed because the detonator may have been too small or was not in “proper contact” with the explosive material, investigators told ABC News.

Investigators say the suspect, Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian student whose birthday was last Tuesday, has provided detailed information about his recruitment and training for what was supposed to be a Christmas Day suicide attack.

It’s difficult to see how TSA will create standards to protect against suicide underwear.  Thanks to Richard Reid, we have to take off our shoes before getting to the gate now at the airport.  An underwear check will certainly make security today, with all of its delays, seem like a breeze in comparison, when breezes from airport air conditioning start hitting new places altogether.

Interestingly, this attack suffered from the same problem as the shoe bomber’s: incompetence.  Both flights got lucky that the radical Islamist at the trigger didn’t know how to set off the bomb properly.  The heroes on both flights could have been seriously wounded had even a portion of the underwear detonated.

TSA has already imposed new restrictions on international flights coming into the US (via Amy Alkon and Business Insider):

Extra pat-downs before boarding. No getting up for the last hour of the flight. More bomb-sniffing dogs. Airports worldwide tightened security a day after a passenger tried to light some kind of explosive on a flight into Detroit.

The Transportation Security Administration wouldn’t say exactly what it was doing differently on Saturday. It didn’t need to.

Passengers getting off both U.S. domestic flights and those arriving from overseas reported being told that they couldn’t get out of their seat for the last hour of their flight. Air Canada also said that during the last hour passengers won’t be allowed access to carry-on baggage or to have any items on their laps.

But at the origin of the problem, not much has changed:

Little was different at the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, where the man’s trip originated. Soldiers impassively stared at those passing into the departure terminal Saturday. Others sat and talked among themselves, loaded rifles tossed over their shoulders.

Once again, the reaction to a terrorist attack has been to penalize everyone else instead of getting serious about the actual threat.  The US should have started emulating El Al after 9/11, whose security screening uses expert analysis and questioning, as well as heightened scrutiny where it belongs.  I wrote this over three years ago:

Israel doesn’t worry about what a passenger might carry onto a flight as much as they focus on the traveler himself. John Hinderaker at Power Line described his experiences flying El Al several years ago, while traveling with his family to Israel. After only asking a couple of questions, the screener wished him a happy vacation, assured that John meant no harm. (Apparently, the Israeli screener has never seen John in court.)

This approach allows people who present no danger to travel without being treated like a criminal from the moment they step into the airport to the time the plane lands at their destination. Israel understands that restricting items from carry-on luggage, or eliminating carry-on luggage entirely, will not stop a determined effort by terrorists to seize flights or destroy them. Therefore, the screeners focus on the passengers themselves. If they find one that makes them nervous, they start doing a more in-depth interrogation and a thorough search of the passenger and his luggage, carry-on or not.

It’s this subjective analysis that has civil libertarians opposed to such procedures in the US. The Times notes that some complain that such a program could turn into racial profiling without any objective safeguards. Some passengers who refused to cooperate in interviews got threatened with arrest, prompting lawsuits. The program in Dulles has uncovered over fifty people whose reactions revealed ill intent, although none of them terror-related.

These criticisms should have died on 9/11. The important point about airport security is to secure the airport and the airplanes, not worry that social attitudes may get bruised. If done properly — and the Israeli consultants say we have more work to get to that stage — then this program can catch the actual terrorists and leave the rest of us to travel in peace. Selection comes from a wide net of casual interactions, from which screeners narrow down the potential problems. That seems like a reasonable program, and its success would allow travelers to carry their Juicy Juice and Gatorade on board without getting tackled on the ramp.

One would think that after the latest terrorist plot got revealed, people would understand the need for better screening techniques and the desire to replicate the success of the Israelis. Some people will only be satisfied if passengers travel equally naked and equally shackled to their seats, rather than just find the few people who actually mean us harm.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have predicted suicide underwear at that time, but as I wrote in August 2006, the multiplying of regulations for everyone just means that terrorists will get more creative while everyone else gets discouraged from traveling at all.  As an approach to security and counterterrorism, it’s just nuts.

Update (AP): The ABC article says he was traveling via a U.S. visa granted in 2008, but the AP’s reporting that the feds have known for at least two years that he might have terrorist ties. Do we, er, normally grant visas to people we suspect of jihadist tendencies?

Meanwhile, two other passengers say they saw the suspect before the flight trying to board without a passport:

Haskell said he and his wife were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man

While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. “The guy said, ‘He’s from Sudan and we do this all the time.’”

Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab’s lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee.

The ticket agent referred Mutallab and his companion to her manager down the hall, and Haskell didn’t see Mutallab again until after he tried to detonate an explosive on the plane.

Here’s a little something dug up by the Breitbart team this afternoon. Sleep tight.

Update (Ed): James Joyner has more on the response from TSA, including how it wouldn’t have even prevented the attack that prompted the changes.

Update (AP): Looks like the video above might be a fake. A reader e-mails:

There is no explosive in the world where just a small drop can blow up a water melon, no way.

A physical chemist can probably provide the necessary calculations to it up, but just based on what I’ve seen from other explosives do I call this absolute bullshit. PETN has a vDet (velocity of detonation, or how quick the detonation goes through the explosive) of 8400 m/s. RDX is considered “one of the most powerful and brisant of the military high explosives.” (wiki) and has a vDet of 8750 m/s. In the video they claim that this explosive has a vDet of between 4300 and 6550 m/s, so not as powerful as PETN.

Now look at these video’s of PETN explosions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96kR2pEEuRM

This is 10 GRAMS of PETN, in contrast to the ±50mg (at absolute most) they used on the other video… Ok, the 10g PETN does some damage, but I doubt it would have been enough to completely blow up a plane – besides, I really doubt that a 200 smaller amount would have ‘evaporated’ a water melon.

Another example, of 4g PETN this time (remember, this is 80 times the amount claimed in the hot air video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3NPFbqhqXE

Good points all, although there’s still a smidgen of credibility in the fact that we don’t know which chemicals are being used here. (I wouldn’t have posted it if we did, obviously; it’s a classic Mythbusters blur-and-blur mix!) Some commenters at Breitbart’s site also claimed that the video was fake, though, as well as very old. So apologies, in that case, for raising the alarm with bad info.


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No, mr. JA, I did not claim you were not a reader. Obviously, you are reading HA. I stated you were an idiot from LGF calling himself mr. JA. And the Breitbart comment was always there. Maybe, if you would take your lips off chuckie’s butt your brain would get more oxygen and you wouldn’t hallucinate? And, who’s “they”? There’s only me. But, expanding it into a “they” fits into the lgf victimhood schtick.

Blake on December 27, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Someplace somewhere someones have a lot of fun peeling our rights away like a bannana peel. First shoes. Then liquids. Now our underwear. Ok ladies, no bras on the plane. Men, no tighty whiteys.

Whats next? Fake exploding boobs and fake exploding testicles? Or a fake glass eye or fake ear?

This last example is pretty creepy. Well, lets go ahead and keep giving ‘them‘ rights. Thats really working now isn’t it? I’d say load a plane full of ‘them‘ up, send it over the ocean, then have a mannequin loaded with all this gel, plastique and C4 just detonate the living hell out of them and have ‘Is this what you’ve been trying to do?’ announced over the intercom before it goes off. Thats how much respect for a terrorist I have.

johnnyU on December 27, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Want to get pulled aside fast, flash a military ID. Worse yet, travel in uniform. Maybe it is just me but it seems I get pulled aside every time I travel for the military. Go figure … oh wait, TSA has there eyes on vets.

Claimsratt on December 27, 2009 at 9:44 PM

jgdp on December 26, 2009 at 5:05 PMActually, you do not understand the meaning of separation of church and state. Whilst I agree that it is not appropriate to be employing a Muslima in Hijab, where you are wrong is your understanding of that doctrine. What it really means is that the State cannot make any religious denomination etc. the state religion. This goes for Sharia as well. According to the USA Constitution and the separation of Church and State, no one religion is allowed to be dominant. That means that attempting to impose Sharia law is unconstitutional. This also applies to imposing atheism, communism (it is a religion too), the church of Warmology, The Church of Green and Unicorns…..

maggieo on December 27, 2009 at 10:48 PM

I also think the Catholic church is now coming through a horrible period where the same was true, with power and sex all mixed up.

It’s a kind of sick codependency, really. People give over themselves to a bad force.

AnninCA on December 27, 2009 at 1:45 AM

How can you even compare the two? How many people has the Vatican beheaded lately?

conservnut on December 27, 2009 at 1:49 AM

She never stays on the topic of the thread. There is always some inflammatory tangent thrown out to see what sticks. Its what thread hijackers do.

Last thread was about Obamacare and she started spewing about the Iraq War and WMDs and how it was the same.

This thread is: Terrorist wore suicide underwear made by top AQ bombmaker in Yemen and she wants to talk about the catholic church.

Geochelone on December 28, 2009 at 12:39 AM

She never stays on the topic of the thread. There is always some inflammatory tangent thrown out to see what sticks. Its what thread hijackers do.

Last thread was about Obamacare and she started spewing about the Iraq War and WMDs and how it was the same.

This thread is: Terrorist wore suicide underwear made by top AQ bombmaker in Yemen and she wants to talk about the catholic church.

Geochelone on December 28, 2009 at 12:39 AM
———————————————————–

Ah! The genius of liberalism…
You see Geochelone, the true evil in this world is the USA and “Christo-Facsism.” Nothing, and I MEAN NOTHING, that our enemies can do including, 9-11, beheadings, and suicide bombs, is as bad as the evil and nasty things we have done in our “wanton and sordid past.”

What do they hate about us?

1. Christianity
2. Capitalism
3. Liberty

shorebird on December 28, 2009 at 1:27 AM

If the Americans would stop allowing muslims to wear clothes, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

Kralizec on December 28, 2009 at 1:43 AM

Does it take a death count to realize the serious account of this act?

mixplix on December 28, 2009 at 1:47 AM

So let me understand what happened.

1) A terrorist got an AQ made and designed bomb onto a commercial airline past security.

2) Janet Napolitano claims “the system worked”

What part of “the system” involves getting terrorists with bombs onto commercial flights? Or does she mean AQ’s system worked while our didn’t do a damn thing to help the situation?

Well at least we know our government thinks this was a really good outcome, and not a clear and obvious case of the system failing miserably… so they’ll get more bombs on planes, its our system to let them, then hope against hope that the terrorists don’t kill hundreds of people.

Can we get a new system? Maybe one that isn’t designed to get a whole lot of Americans killed?

gekkobear on December 28, 2009 at 2:27 AM

http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=162889

BREAKING NEWS: Mutallab Family Issues Statement
12.28.2009

Our family, like the rest of the world, were woken up in the early hours of Saturday, 26th December, 2009 to the news of an attempt to blow up a plane by a young Nigerian man, who was later identified as Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab is the son of Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru AbdulMutallab, the head of this Family.

Prior to this incident, his father, having become concerned about his disappearance and stoppage of communication while schooling abroad, reported the matter to the Nigerian security agencies about two months ago, and to some foreign security agencies about a month and a half ago, then sought their assistance to find and return him home.

We provided them with all the information required of us to enable them do this. We were hopeful that they would find and return him home. It was while we were waiting for the outcome of their investigation that we arose to the shocking news of that day.

The disappearance and cessation of communication which got his mother and father concerned to report to the security agencies are completely out of character and a very recent development, as before then, from very early childhood, Farouk, to the best of parental monitoring, had never shown any attitude, conduct or association that would give concern. As soon as concern arose, very recently, his parents, reported it and sought help.

The family will continue to fully cooperate with local and international security agencies towards the investigation of this matter, while we await results of the full investigation.

We, along with the whole world, are thankful to Al-Mighty God that there were no lives lost in the incident. May God continue to protect us all, amen.

Finally, as the matter is being investigated by the various agencies, and has already been mentioned in a US court, the family requests that the press should regard this as the only statement it will make for now.

Thank you.
Signed

The Mutallab Family
Abuja,
Nigeria

Chudi on December 28, 2009 at 3:35 AM

Either we are in for a tough time or not – it all depends on if it was irregular or not. You can only get these undies in a set of three – unless they are ‘irregular, in which case they are sold individually.

Fuquay Steve on December 28, 2009 at 10:52 AM

yawn

Spathi on December 28, 2009 at 10:57 AM

A physical chemist can probably provide the necessary calculations to it up, but just based on what I’ve seen from other explosives do I call this absolute bullshit. PETN has a vDet (velocity of detonation, or how quick the detonation goes through the explosive) of 8400 m/s. RDX is considered “one of the most powerful and brisant of the military high explosives.” (wiki) and has a vDet of 8750 m/s. In the video they claim that this explosive has a vDet of between 4300 and 6550 m/s, so not as powerful as PETN.

What does PETN stand for? Maybe with a chemical name, someone with a knowledge of chemistry could figure out how explosive it is.

Steve Z on December 28, 2009 at 12:45 PM

The Morman religion, with its systemic abuse of children for sexual reasons, is another one.

There’s honestly no end of the depravity of humans, is there?

AnninCA on December 27, 2009 at 2:25 AM

I’m a Mormon and its pretty clear you are very ignorant of the LDS faith.

The LDS Church does not support or encourage abuse of any kind and any person found to be abusing someone is excommunicated ASAP.

Here are some webpages that give the Mormon position on abuse:

http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/basic-beliefs/glossary/glossary-definition/abuse

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=0f4239b439c98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/child-abuse

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=56d0991a83d20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=ed462ce2b446c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Conservative Samizdat on December 28, 2009 at 3:50 PM

yawn

Spathi on December 28, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Spoken by a true expert on the subject.

Del Dolemonte on December 28, 2009 at 5:50 PM

This AQ undergarment manufacturer should get a bailout from the U.N since it’s products are surely defective.

Cybergeezer on December 29, 2009 at 4:46 PM

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