Saturday, December 26, 2009


By now it's all over the media:

Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Detroit-Bound Airplane

The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil.

The device went off as Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus 330 carrying 278 passengers and operated by Delta, was arriving in Detroit from Amsterdam.

The suspect was identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who according to federal documents is an engineering student at University College of London.

Federal law enforcement authorities are trying to determine the credibility of Abdulmutallab's story; i.e. IS he an Al Qaeda operative, or is this another episode of what I have coined 'Self-Induced Jihad Syndrome'?


Abdulmutallab certainly fits the 'Self-Induced Jihadi' profile - he is young, intelligent, educated, AND "inspired" - according to his entry visa he was flying from Nigeria to the United States for a "religious seminar".

The suspect had been in a law enforcement-intelligence database but was not on the government's no-fly list. According to a federal situational awareness bulletin: "The subject is claiming to have extremist affiliation and that the device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used."

BRILLIANT - we have apparently returned to the pre-9/11 mindset. There's your Federal government taking care of you.

Technical Analysis:

I am a Special Forces engineer - I have extensive training and experience in what we refer to as 'field expedients'.

The suspect told authorities that he had explosive powder taped to his leg and used a syringe of chemicals to mix with the powder that was to cause explosion. This is of concern because it is a method of mixing that is consistent with terror techniques.

The trouble with this sort of improvised explosives is that they are not reliable, and are very difficult to initiate. Factors such as temperature, ambient pressure and relative humidity affect chemical reactions. A chemical mixture that may have initiated perfectly well in a hot, dry desert climate like Yemen obviously failed to produce results in a jetliner at altitude, thankfully.

The popular television show Mythbusters put these 'MacGyver'-type energetics to the test: in one episode, they tried to replicate how MacGyver once blew a man-sized hole in a wall with one gram of sodium reacting with water. The MythBusters placed sodium in a gel capsule, placed it in a bottle full of warm water, placed the bottle against a cinder block wall, and tamped it with sand. One gram of sodium was not powerful enough to damage the wall (or even the bottle it was in), and 100 grams of sodium was also not enough. The MythBusters then used 500 grams of more-reactive potassium placed inside a cannon-like contraption to direct all the force onto the wall, but still failed to cause any damage. The MythBusters finally resorted to using C4 high explosive to demolish the wall.


  1. I think in this case the attack itself is less interesting in a tactical sense than the fact that the passengers jumped the guys shit as soon as things started going sideways; to the point of actually suffering injuries.

    I call this a big win for the overall cause of airline safety from passenger initiated terror schemes. The government may have gone soft but clearly your odds of there being at least 1 able bodied warrior within a couple of rows of any seat on the plane is high.

    I think the cost/benefit analysis on any of this type of action just went into the "not worth it" category from the terrorists perspective.

  2. Personally I think this is another planned & organized attempt to bring down a large # of US commercial airliners. I can see an organized sick terd sitting in his Mom's basement in Yemen convincing young men to insert xplosives in the crotch of their tighty whitey skivvies where it's not easily found during a search & light it off over the US, eliminating their testicles if nothing else. The good news is they won't be breeding any little terrorists, the bad news I xpect we'll be seeing more of these guys roasting their chesnuts with a peroxide/emergency flare based xplosive. B-Z to the quick acting passengers onboard in preventing a disaster by giving this guy a beat down by stomping on his flaming testicles. For future reference Mr. Terrorist, those 72 virgins will not be much use to u if you've lit your junk on fire.......Terrorism Fail big time.

  3. His dad had warned that his son was a self-manufactured jihadi.


  4. burst: rational reaction to irrational mindset inappropriate, must fight them on terms they understand; father is big stick in Nigerian money circles, dog & pony show trial, blather; Vlad the Impaler had right strategy for this sort; air drop this mook into Yemen wrapped in pig entrails, let them sort it out; Vince Lombardi defense. chasmatic out.

  5. He used powdered PETN...the stuff in det-cord (at least in the 60's it was).

    MUCH more sensitive than TNT, but only about 60% more powerful. I don't think he had enough to do much more than cook himself even at best...altho in a presurized cabin I am probably wrong.

  6. UPDATE:

    This sh*tstain was apparently using PETN - a powerful high explosive used in det cord and sometimes in blasting caps. The trouble is, it requires a detonator (blasting cap) to set it off. This guy tried to achieve this via a chemical reaction that thankfully did not produce the desired results. SEAN LINNANE