21 24 people have been arrested in the U.K. after an investigation uncovered a major terror plot targeted at U.S. bound aircraft leaving London’s Heathrow airport. According to reports, the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft.
The 24 suspects appeared to be of Pakistani descent with strong links to al Qaeda and Pakistani operatives.
Airports worldwide are on high alert. In the U.S., a ‘red alert’ – the highest alert level – was issued. Intense security measures are in effect. In London, carry-on baggage of almost all kinds has been eliminated.
U.S. Homeland Security personnel stated that the terrorists appeared to have planned to use multiple persons aboard each flight to assemble peroxide-based liquid or gel high explosives. The materials could easily be hidden in water bottles, tooth paste tubes, juice boxes or any number of other type of small containers that passengers regularly carry onto flights.
At least nine transcontinental flights from American, United and Continental airlines were targeted in the plot. ABC News has learned that terrorists planned to attack the planes three at a time, waiting an hour between each attack.
According to federal authorities, two or three bombers would each carry a separate portion of the bomb onto the plane to avoid detection. Once onboard the bomb would be assembled and then detonated by using heat or friction.
British authorities had been tracking some of the suspects for several weeks but stepped in to round up the plotters when they began to book flight reservations.
The TSA has banned all liquid carry-ons on U.S. flights.
As you can imagine, the wait to get through security at most U.S. airports is growing. At my airport, Seattle Tacoma International, the time in line is now 82 minutes.
— UK Airports swamped
UPDATE: The alleged plot ringleaders have been identified.
Other MSM news links (courtesy of Drudge): Plan to blow up 6-10 planes in mid-flight over ocean | ‘Mass murder’ bomb plot | May have been ‘the Big One’ | ‘Suggestive’ of al-Qaida | UK police hold 21 | REPORT: Citizens of Pakistani Descent | Britain on highest alert | USA raises air security alert to red for first time |
Statement by Homeland Security | Text: Chertoff’s Statement | FLASHBACK MONDAY: London-to-Boston flight returns to Heathrow because of security issue | Britain facing ‘most sustained threat since WWII’ | Bush Statement | How the terrorists were caught |