HOWTO: Blow Up Airplanes With Liquids

How feasible was it for terrorists to mix together a few common chemicals into a big sky kablooie? People far smarter than us investigate. (Thanks to Caitlin!)

Once the plane is over the ocean, very discreetly bring all of your gear into the toilet…put a beaker containing the peroxide / acetone mixture into the ice water bath, and start adding the acid, drop by drop, while stirring constantly.

After a few hours – assuming, by some miracle, that the fumes haven’t overcome you or alerted passengers or the flight crew to your activities – you’ll have a quantity of TATP with which to carry out your mission. Now all you need to do is dry it for an hour or two.

Just don’t accidentally bump the call button while you’re puttering around.

Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible?” [The Register]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ben says:

    B-b-b-b-but the Al Qaeda dude approved the plot! I saw it on Fox. 10 planes. Really!

  2. The worst part of the article is the little jab the editorialist gives at the end…the writer is not as knowledgeable as he is trying to come across as. First of all, TATP may be tough to make, but there are a host of lesser known liquid explosives that would be easier to make and I’m sure the government isn’t anxious to go spreading the terrorists methods…MEPK, and Astrolite come to mind. Secondly, the dimethylmercury that the writer talks about at the end is not an explosive at all…it’s just an extremely toxic heavy metal liquid that if introduced into a drinking supply or even some kind of aerosol distribution would result in massive heavy metal poisoning…the effects would take a couple months to manifest though…hardly the showy weapon of terrorists.

    This threat was and is real, and if you don’t believe it you are naive. The same people saying that we don’t need security measures at airports that eliminate liquids are the same people who think their computer is safe because AOL gives them spam protection…

    Never trust science from the media or you end up with things like this:

  3. Triteon says:

    Agreed. If the threat’s not real, then what was going on in West Virginia yesterday?

  4. something_amazing says:

    crayonshinobi beat me to the punch.

    Let’s put a different spin on it. Let’s pretend the 9/11 terrorists were captured at the gate and the government released a statement saying “Everything is A-OK. We caught the terrorists as they were trying to board with box cutters. They were then going to break their way into the cabin and proceed to take control of the airplanes and fly them into a number of buildings.”

    Can you imagine that same journalist from “The Register” spouting off about how the mainstream media got it wrong, that it would be a nearly impossible feat to pull off, that NORAD would shoot them down before they even got close, that they consulted with a number of experts who told them that they would never be able to break into the cockpit.

    Uh huh.

  5. Ben says:

    West Virginia was nothing (Pakistani woman = automatic suspect, and what’s with having two different tests come up positive, and then the FBI can’t find anything? HELLO, TRAINING), as was the note that diverted a plane in Egypt today (real note, not bomb, the note was hidden and would not have even been found by the cleaning crew. Probably an Al Qaeda plot)

    The suspects picked up in Pakistan have allegedly read textbooks about bomb making but never done it, didn’t have any materials, and never had any training.

    Everyone’s jumpy. I guess that’s the way it’s got to be.

    I don’t fly, and won’t unless somebody makes me. Not because of terrorists, but because of the people trying to protect us from them.

  6. Dr. Eirik says:

    I wouldn’t fault the field tests too much. In general, something set up to be done out in the field is going to be less reliable than something you set up in a lab. Bomb and drug sniffing dogs get false positives all the time, so do a lot of screening medical tests.

    That’s why you do additional testing after the fact.

  7. mactbone says:

    Have they charged the people in London yet? I’m actually curious, not snarky.

    I’m willing to bet it’s easier to bomb a plane than this article makes it out to be, but from what I’ve heard the biggest problem with liquid explosives is making sure they blow up when you want and not due to some random jiggle or bump.

  8. GenXCub says:

    How smart were the guys making the Fifth Element movie where everyone on flights just get sedated… you know that’s not too far off.

  9. Also, look here for the post that (I believe) was the first to question the feasibility of using liquid explosives to bring down a plane.