Friday, June 29, 2007

Explosive Find in London

An ambulance crew attending to an incident at a nightclub near Piccadilly Circus in London noticed something amiss with a car, although some reports indicate that bouncers at a nightclub saw something wrong with the vehicle or witnessed it crash. They called police to the scene, who discovered that the car contained gas canisters and shrapnel.

The bomb squad defused the device and moved the vehicle away safely, but the mystery remains as to who was involved and what they intended to do. CNN reports:
The device, consisting of 200 liters of fuel, gas cylinders and nails linked to a triggering mechanism, was found in a car in Haymarket, in the city's busy nightclub and theater district shortly before 2 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Friday.

British police anti-terror chief Peter Clarke said the explosives would have resulted in significant injury and loss of life had the explosives detonated.

Clarke said police were alerted to the car after an ambulance crew attending an earlier incident noticed a smoke-filled car parked close to the popular "Tiger Tiger" nightclub.

Explosives officers discovered canisters of fuel, gas cylinders and nails attached to a "potential means of detonation," inside the vehicle. Officers on the scene "courageously" disabled the trigger by hand, he said.

Earlier, security sources told CNN that the "relatively crude device" contained at least 200 liters, or about 50 gallons, of fuel in canisters.

"Even at this stage it is obvious that if the device had detonated, there could have been severe injuries and loss of life," Clarke said.

He said it was too early to say who was responsible, but police were examining footage from London's unparalelled mesh of CCTV cameras for clues.
The BBC reports that international elements are involved, which is highly suggestive of al Qaeda.

Law enforcement and intel officials note that there was no intel on this given incident - meaning they didn't know that this particular plot was ongoing until it was discovered this morning.

Hot Air is running with the story.

Pajamas Media has running updates, and investigators are looking at other landmark areas to see if explosives were planted there as well.

The vehicle was spotted outside an American Express office, but was close to a nightclub that could hold up to 1,700 people. Last night, there were about 650 inside at the time the incident occurred.

A second suspicious vehicle has been found in London and and a Sky News report links the second vehicle to the first incident.
Hours later, police closed a major road, Park Lane, on the edge of Hyde Park after reports of a suspicious vehicle.

Sky News reported that the second vehicle was connected to the car bomb found earlier. But, prior to the television report, a police spokesperson said there was nothing to immediately suggest it was linked to the earlier incident.
Sky News is reporting that this appears to be the work of al Qaeda.
It is not known whether he was an al Qaeda suicide bomber who lost his nerve, or if the device was timed to go off when it would cause maximum casualties when the street was crowded with people leaving the club.

Part of Park Lane was closed to traffic this afternoon after reports of a suspicious car in the Mount Street car park. Scotland Yard said a 200-yard cordon was in place which will affect Oxford Circus, Green Park and the Curzon Street areas. People were being evacuated from Hyde Park.

Haymarket was shut for most of the day. Sixteen bus routes which normally pass through the area were being diverted.

Anti-terrorist officers have long feared a suicide or car bomb attack on a crowded club or pub in the city but sources said there had been no intelligence on a specific attack.

It had also been feared that terrorists would mount an attack to coincide with Gordon Brown taking over as Prime Minister. Sources say the most likely suspects are extremists linked to al Qaeda.

In April five British Muslim men were jailed for life for plotting a wave of al Qaeda bomb attacks - one target was to be the Ministry of Sound nightclub in Southwark.

There are also similarities to another al Qaeda-inspired plot, masterminded by Dhiren Barot, who had drawn up plans for limousines packed with explosives to be detonated in London. He was jailed for 30 years.

Security was being raised around London to a level not seen since the 7/7 attacks. Next Saturday is the second anniversary of the London bombings.
This incident also comes on the heels of threats made by Islamists around the world following the beknighting of Salman Rushdie. It is possible this incident could be related to those, but the media reports seem to downplay that connection.

LGF now notes that there might be a connection to Salman Rushie, and also notes that Daily Kos is engaging in conspiracy theorizing that this was all timed to help Bush, and the Islamists are busy theorizing that the Jews were behind this plot - so as to smear Muslims living in Britain.

It is curious that there were multiple bomb discoveries and no detonations. Someone probably screwed up before all the other bombs were in place - most likely the guy driving the first vehicle discovered. Why the other bombers failed to detonate their explosives doesn't make sense unless they didn't know that the first bomb failed to reach its intended target. Did they not have any contact with each other?

Something doesn't add up here - and I suspect that the Brits got real lucky.

The device was sophisticated and carefully constructed but it appears to have fizzled, which is why people thought something was amiss when smoke started coming from the first vehicle.

Law enforcement may have a bead on who may be involved in this plot. They apparently had let the driver involved in the morning's first vehicle incident go:
British police have a "crystal clear" picture of the man who drove the bomb-rigged silver Mercedes outside a London nightclub, and officials tell the Blotter on he bears "a close resemblance" to a man arrested by police in connection with another bomb plot but released for lack of evidence.

Officials say the suspect had been taken into custody in connection with the case of al Qaeda operative Dhiren Barot (pictured), who was convicted of orchestrating a vehicle bomb plot involving targets in London, New York, Newark, N.J. and Washington, D.C.

Officials say a surveillance camera caught the suspect "staggering from the Mercedes" shortly after parking it outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub.

U.S. and British law enforcement officials tell ABC News it is increasingly clear Friday's bomb plot in London involves multliple vehicles, and is described by a senior official as a "terror plot involving lslamic extremists."
The bomb failed to detonate even though two calls were placed to the cellphone trigger. I guess they'll have much more solid evidence this go-around.

Here's more on how the first device was defused by the bomb squad in London; it had to be done by a bomb squad officer because the robot could not see through the thick haze in the vehicle.
Donning an approximately 90-pound Kevlar suit , one technician took "the long walk" from his armored response van to the Mercedes E 300 sedan and found a carefully constructed, large vehicle bomb with a complicated fuse. The bomb technician defused the device by hand, officials in London said.

ABC News has learned the bomb was composed of tanks of propane, butane and 125 liters of gasoline (33 U.S. gallons), roofing nails and a fuse that initial reports indicated was constructed of simple light bulb or flashbulb filaments and designed to be triggered by a mobile telephone.
The bomb failed to detonate because the fuel-air mixture was incorrect. Had it worked, it would have been a significant explosion.

The three men are believed to be from the Birmingham area, a center of radical Islamic unrest in Britain, U.S. officials who had been briefed on the developments told NBC News.

Police said the two cars, a light green and a light blue Mercedes-Benz, were found early Friday morning in London’s theater district. The green Mercedes was defused at the site. The blue Mercedes was not discovered to be a threat until early Friday evening, after it had been issued a parking ticket and towed to an impoundment lot near Hyde Park.
Hot Air has more on the ongoing investigation. ThreatsWatch has additional analysis.

Others blogging the investigation and providing analysis: AJ Strata, Kim at Wizbang, Macranger, JunkYard Blog, Gina Cobb, and Gateway Pundit.

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