Confirmation: Why UK Bomb Triggers Failed
ABC News is reporting How the Bombs Failed in al-Qaeda's recent UK bombing attempts. It appears a syringe failed as part of the triggering mechanisms.
Personally, I wish they would not reveal such information. But since they have and it's out there, the goal now becomes for us to learn more from the information's release than the jihadiyun, if possible.
The London bomb plot allegedly planned by a cell of doctors failed early last Friday morning because a medical syringe used as part of the firing mechanism caused a malfunction, ABC News has learned.
According to nonclassified documents reviewed by ABC News, and confirmed by multiple sources, both mobile telephones initiated firing mechanisms rigged inside a Mercedes E 300 parked several yards from the front door of Tiger Tiger nightclub failed despite multiple calls to the cell phones designed to remotely trigger the devices. [Ed. Note: Second paragraph contents were already known and publicly reported. The rest of the article is a rehash of known circumstances, seemingly to fill space allowing for the singular information of the syringe failure to be (foolishly) released in a story format.]
If the syringe failure in the triggering mechanisms is accurate - and there's little reason to suggest otherwise at this point - then this confirms observations I had made privately and publicly (specifically in discussions and in a post at National Review's blog The Tank, where I cautioned against referring to the UK bombers as 'inept' or 'amateurish.'
There were three very powerful bombs, made completely of openly available materials and designed to duplicate similar bomb designs from Iraq and elsewhere that have the convenience of military grade high explosives as the triggered initiator for the blast. Other than that (largely), the designs were - in even their basic publicly sketched appearance - the same. And the only failure was common throughout each one: Failing dual cell phone triggering mechanisms.
We almost certainly do not know the half of this weekend's bomb designs being publicly supplied to and reported by the media outlets. It can be almost universally assumed that they were far more intricate than simply gasoline and propane tanks with zip-lock baggies full of nails taped to them. Though I have no direct knowledge of the specific design, I know enough to be confident that I have not yet laid eyes on the true complexity of the design. Nor has anyone currently calling these terrorists 'inept.'
I have, however, maintained in various offline discussions since Friday that there was either a minute (and system-fatal) flaw with the triggering designs or in the end-point bomb maker's implementation of them. The same failure indicates the same failed design or the same failed implementation, perhaps both. This is a minor issue technically. Important, but minor. And it will be overcome by an intelligent and adaptive enemy.
These were not 'cheesy' or 'amateur' bombs. They were bombs smartly made with materials designed to avoid detection...with a consistent glitch in the triggering mechanisms.
Unfortunately, perhaps this particular failure "will be overcome by an intelligent and adaptive enemy" in large part thanks to Brian Ross and ABC News' reporting.
The last paragraph of the ABC story attempts to dispel or minimize similarities between the UK bombs and those made and used or found in Iraq. This is a mistake.
The Iraqi bombs are explosives linked to gases either in the idea of increasing their effectiveness or spreading a chemical cloud. The London and Glasgow devices are not explosives at all, but firebombs.
To a dancing patrons of the Tiger Tiger club (or any other targeted with such devices), the distinction between a deadly 'firebomb' and a deadly 'explosive' is one left to be made by those comfortably removed from harm's way.
But at any rate, the distinction is meaningless and perhaps even foolish once again. The reason the Iraqi designs are 'explosives' is precisely because of the use of military grade plastic explosives as the triggering mechanisms. Add a couple of extra placements due to abundance, and there you have it. An 'explosive.'
But the tanks, the nails...the majority of the bomb, including the tanks' positioning within the vehicle...the designs are decidedly not dissimilar.
At the early stages of reporting from multiple sources, the popular theme was that there was no (immediate) link to al-Qaeda, as if a membership card from Waziristan would make matters more dire. Yet, with this early meme combined with today's ABC conclusion that these were 'only' firebombs, dangerous ground is tread and a dangerous message furthered: These guys were amateurish and inept.
Wrong. They made a mistake, particularly in their triggers, which were not easy implementations. Have you ever made a mistake in your chosen field? Did that mistake define you as inept? Amateurish? Repeated verbatim as previously stated:
Those who wish to dismiss the attempted bombings as 'amateurish' would be well advised to quietly reconsider.
This would have been more deadly than the vast majority of bombing attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Israel.
And we don't call them inept, do we?
Hint: No. We don't.Because intent is intent and dead is dead. And the enemy learns and adapts.
Caution to those who would follow the 'inept amateur' message and derive deceptive comfort.
While Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff played down a report of imminent al-Qaeda attack, a law enforcement report prepared for the Department of Homeland Security concluded that al-Qaeda plans a "spectacular" attack on the US this summer.
"This is reminiscent of the warnings and intelligence we were getting in the summer of 2001," ABC quoted the unidentified official as saying.
It would be dangerously wrong to classify the potential (and past) actors 'inept' or 'amateurs' on the grounds of the absence of plastic explosives or a graduate certificate from al-Qaeda's Camp Bombalot training camp in North Waziristan.