Was The Yemen Air Cargo Bomb Plot Intended To Fail? Possibly Yes

This past Friday, the 29th of October 2010, as details of a foiled plot to ship bombs via commercial cargo carriers I wrote about “Air Cargo Security Scares From Yemen, Shows Of Political Force & Real Potential Scenarios.”   As events have continued to unfold I have continued to receive some interesting commentary from people with a unique perspective into the whole situation.

While international security agencies move into high alert, some anti-terrorism experts believe that these packages were found by design, not by chance or detective work.  Since the discovery of the packages in Dubai and the United Kingdom were made public on Friday there appear to be key indicators that the devices may not have been to detonate in flight, or at all, and may have been shipped for purposes other than exploding.

A veteran U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) terrorism analyst has a view of these incidents that are contrary to the public statements being made from government public affairs offices. Rather than write about this myself today, I think I’ll let the DoD terrorism analyst’s words speak for themselves. This analyst states:

The Yemen terrorist plot was fouled in the way it was fouled because they wanted to be caught. The way I see this going down was that the terrorist organization either wanted to be caught to create a diversion for future plans or they set up the plan to fail in an effort to flush out their own internal leak.”

In regard to the likelihood that these packages were intended to detonate in transit, the analyst does not believe they were ever intended to detonate in flight stating:

This terrorist organization, whether they actually are al Qa’ida or an unrelated organization that al Qa’ida is taking credit for was taking aim at a Jewish community in the US, but packages were shipped on a Qatar [Airways] flight, an Islamic nation’s airline. One could theorize that since Qatar is an ally to the US they may be a target, but it is unlikely from a political impact point of view.  If the packages were to detonate it is likely they would have on one of the to Qatar flights.  These bombs were not sophisticated enough to pin point where they were in flight, in the world or to have been controlled by an outside source, so they were not a likely threat to the Federal Express or United Parcel Service flights.  If a terrorist organization is going to make a statement blowing up a US cargo aircraft they would need to plan better and ensure they shipped in such a way that they knew exactly how that package would travel and its flight path. That planning is possible and it would not have originated from Yemen. This terrorist plot planning was sloppy. Sloppy is not the usual calling card of al Qa’ida unless they are testing the waters or performing some other type of reconnaissance mission we are not completely aware of at this time.”

This Department of Defense terrorism analyst closed with:

When an al Qa’ida attack happens next it will not be sloppy and chances are we’ll never see it coming. Our intelligence into the organization is often spotty due to the fragmented organizational structure of al Qa’ida. I can tell you this, whatever the next move is it won’t involve anything we have just seen because we’ve just seen it. They don’t play the same card twice.”

So … my question is this … when will we begin implementing real and effective security procedures for air cargo?

Happy Flying!



  1. Fish-

    I think people around the world, and especially here in the US and in the UK have failed to realize that what occurred on 9/11 (although very sad with all the death and destruction) fails in comparison to what has changed from that point on. I think the terrorists are more proud of fundamentally changing the the way things are done in every day life and the economic devastation that has been inflicted. So i think your blog is spot on and i tend to agree with the analyst’s analysis of the situation. It is far easier to change how things are done, be it burden the general population with the TSA (security theater) and all the rights we have blindly rescinded than actually causing bodily harm. I think that is their main agenda, and any property destruction/life lost is a secondary benefit. (I am not trying to sound insensitive to what has happened)

  2. Fish-

    I have to agree with the DOD guy accessment.The IRA in UK done the same thing scare as many people as possible with threats and the odd bomb blast . I was there in Manchester when they blow up the shopping center with a truck bomb . Cost huge ammount of money to fix the place up broken glass alone . Now the costs will be screening all air cargo which of course we will all have to pay as so many goods are sent by air.

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