Anyone remember why you can't take liquids onto airplanes now? I do. I remember exactly when we realized that liquids could be turned into bombs, because that was the day my daughter was flying to the United States on an American airline out of Heathrow.
Today I came across this article on CNN.com. Reading it sent chills through my heart. I'd never realized just how close the plot was to becoming reality. And how neatly it might have worked. It's an account from the journals of the mastermind behind the liquid bomb plot, Rashid Rauf:
"After analysis that it would be possible to take concentrated hydrogen peroxide on board, the thought came to our mind: would it be possible to detonate the hydrogen aboard an airplane?" wrote Rauf.
That was the moment when the liquid bomb plot was conceived. And ever since it was uncovered, the world's airline passengers have been restricted in the liquids they can carry on board.
"The way they progressed from London bomb plots to airline was very unexpected and brilliant," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN.
Over the next months, Haji brainstormed about how such devices could be constructed and smuggled onto a plane undetected. "The discovery that hydrogen peroxide could be colored without losing its explosive properties was a major breakthrough," Rauf wrote.
They also decided that they would convert AA batteries into detonators, Rauf wrote. "We also practiced how to open a drinks bottles, empty it, and replace it with Hydrogen Peroxide, to make it seem unopened."
Rauf wrote that al Qaeda believed half a kilo of liquid explosive would without a doubt destroy an airplane, having noted a similar amount of plastic explosive Semtex had destroyed Pan Am Flight103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
Today is the anniversary of the death of the most wanted terrorist in the world. But it was another terrorist, the author of the liquid bomb plot, whose death I was happy to read of in the above article.
Because that one was personal for me:
Rauf wrote that Ali was told to target flights heading for the United States. A few days before his arrest, Ali was monitored looking up flights from Heathrow to North America which would all be in the air at the same time.
Members of my family fly out of Heathrow several times a year, including the very day the perpetrators were arrested. My friends all fly out of Heathrow, many of them on US carriers. What are the odds my daughter's flight was one of the nine targeted by the terrorists?
It's a hassle to have to toss liquids into the bin before going through security. I hate having to strip my bag of anything that might contain over 2 ounces of liquid, including my favorite makeup pencil.
But those bastards thought nothing of killing nine planes full of passengers. One of them could very well have been my daughter, or a friend's loved one.
God damn them to hell. And take my liquids. Please.